UK Release Date: 5th June 2015
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Hayley Kiyoko, Tate Berney
Synopsis: When a young girl tries to contact her recently deceased mother, she inadvertently lets several malevolent spirits into her life.
The Insidious franchise has been a baffling success, given that neither film particularly succeeds in terms of scares. In the face of far better “cattle prod cinema” films, such as The Conjuring, it’s bizarre that Insidious has risen to the top and earned itself a threequel. Outgoing director James Wan is replaced for Insidious: Chapter 3 by his long-time collaborator Leigh Whannell, who proves to be an incredibly competent horror director.
Quinn (Stefanie Scott) is a teen about to embark on an acting career, desperate to contact her recently deceased mother. However, she lets a malevolent spirit known as The Man Who Can’t Breathe into her life. Troubled, Quinn’s father (Dermot Mulroney) recruits medium Elise (Lin Shaye) to help and also turns to a pair of bloggers (Whannell and Angus Sampson).
Surprisingly, Insidious: Chapter 3 goes against all franchise rules by being a vastly better film than either of its predecessors. Whannell, previously only deployed as a writer and actor, shows a great aptitude behind the camera here in his directorial debut.
| "I heard him in your room while you were gone. He’s in there right now. Standing in your room."
Whannell has a great skill for crafting scares, which seems to come from the best of James Wan’s work in the genre. Whilst the previous Insidious films tended towards psychedelic ghost train scares, Insidious: Chapter 3 focuses more on the chills and jumps format of other, more lo-fi modern horror movies. The bizarre Darth Maul-alike character of the first film is gone, replaced with the genuinely terrifying Man Who Can’t Breathe.
There’s nothing subtle about Whannell’s direction and fans of jump scares will not be disappointed. However, there’s a refreshing unpredictability to when the jumps arrive and often the scares arise from unexpected locations. He is also just as comfortable with letting tension build, creating a reservoir of dread to pay off with a scare later. Whannell has a patience that is shared by few horror filmmakers today.
The film benefits from promoting franchise MVP Lin Shaye to lead the threequel’s cast. Shaye has a real emotional vulnerability to her that makes her a genuinely likeable protagonist. The nominal leading family of Insidious: Chapter 3 are a generic horror movie group, but Shaye is someone who the audience roots for and cares about. By the time she comes into her own in the third act, her victories make you want to punch the air.
| "No matter what happens. No matter what you see. Stay strong."
Between Shaye, Whannell and a terrific central spirit, Insidious: Chapter 3 has a lot going for it. It’s still too reliant on jump scares and still has the franchise’s signature mess of a third act, but it also manages to deliver some solid chills and marks out Leigh Whannell as a solid directorial hand.
This franchise should never have got beyond its first installment, but it’s great to see Insidious: Chapter 3 end the trilogy on its highest point.
Pop or Poop?
As a showcase for the directorial talents of Splat Pack mainstay Leigh Whannell. He steers the Insidious franchise to its biggest success, crafting excellent scares and believable characters.
Lin Shaye excels with an expanded role and the supporting cast are used in the right way to hide their under-written characters.
Insidious: Chapter 3 arrives too late to save the franchise, but it certainly ends it on the right note.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.