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INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (2015)
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Tate Berney, Michael Reid MacKay, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko, Corbett Tuck, Tom Fitzpatrick, Tom Gallop, Jeris Poindexter, Ele Keats, Phyllis Applegate, Phil Abrams, Erin Anderson, Joseph Bishara
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As much as I found the original INSIDIOUS to be popcorny fun, every time this series tries to go back to that well and do another sequel it just gets lamer and more evident that they’ve run out of ideas. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 is indicative of everything wrong with mainstream horror these days and really should be the death knell for this series, though I doubt it will be.
Marked as a prequel, INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 and the film prior to this one in the series have been mired in unnecessary continuity, trying really hard to match up with everything from the first film for an audience who really isn’t invested enough to care. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 seems to serve mainly as an origin story for the through-way character Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who has a special connection with a dimension known as The Further, a place where the dead go when they don’t move on to…other places, I guess. In this film, a wheezing ghost torments a young girl named Quinn (Stefanie Scott) and her protective father Sean (Dermot Mulroney). Having recently lost her mother, Quinn reaches out to talk with her, but wakes evil spirits instead. Elise enlists the help of the bumbling duo who appeared in the first two films, Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell – who pulls triple duty of writing and directing this film as well) for the first time and the dream team is made. Turns out Elise’s connection with The Further is deeper than we thought, as her husband was lost suddenly and is wandering around the Purgatory-esque place as well. Jump scares and piano bangs then occur with great frequency.
And that’s the problem. There are decently paced and orchestrated scares in INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3, but they are made less so with the idiotic “jump every three minutes” formula that all of these SINISIDIONJURING films from Blumhouse follow with devotion. So little faith is had in the audience that they would actually become invested in the shallow characters that the film simply must take a sledgehammer to the synth keyboard every three minute mark. Yes, this causes a jump, but it’s a hollow one that never resonates. In the first film this highlighted some definite horrific moments, but in this one, the musical exclamation points take the place of any real scares and show Whannell’s lack of faith in the intensity of the scares themselves. Even in scenes that should be effective, such as when the wheezing man and his ghostly menagerie are running towards someone in a slowly closing elevator, you have become so numb due to false scares that these scenes that are supposed to cause tension have lost their effect.
What’s worse is that they seem to want to make Lin Shaye into an action star. She actually gets a fight scene in this film, and despite the investment the recognizably talented actress possesses, seeing her knuckle up with a ghost just isn’t scary or tense. It’s just a stuntman in an old lady costume fighting another stunt man in a ghost costume. Seeing Shaye spout Schwartzeneggarian one-liners as she fights a ghost is insulting to both the audience and Shaye as an actress, and proves to be one of the biggest groaners of the film.
There are plenty of ghosts out there, and keyboard to destroy with excessively forceful fingers, so I’m sure there will be another INSIDIOUS, the next probably promising to be the last or something like that. But this series really is showing its age early. The first two fit together rather well, though the ghosts in old timey costumes simply weren’t that scary in the second one. But this third trip into The Further really should be the last. Again, if you’re hopped up on ADHD meds and caffeine, this film might do the trick with you, but any horror fan knows this is definitely safe and low impact horror from start to finish.