Insidious: Chapter 3 online movie review - What it might lack in genuine scares, "Insidious: Chapter 3" easily makes up for with heart and style. A surprisingly fun, effective and engaging prequel!
The directorial debut of screenwriter Leigh Whannell, "Insidious: Chapter 3" is a film I approached with an open mind, yet a slight hint of hesitance and worry.
I still recall that day five years ago in April of 2010 when I joined a friend on a trek to see the original film in theaters, and how greatly I was effected and how genuinely I was frightened by it's expert use of atmosphere and good, old-fashioned creeps, thanks to Whannell's script and James Wan's masterful direction.
And I recall the intrigue and fun I had catching the sequel a few years later on Blu-Ray after I unfortunately missed it's theatrical release due to a hectic schedule. With Whannell's script that developed the storyline in strange and fascinating new ways and Wan's visual direction continuing to drive home the eerie atmospheric thrills and chills of the scenario.
Then came the time for this third chapter. I will admit, a part of me was worried. After learning that Wan was unavailable to direct due to other obligations and that it would be the debut of writer Leigh Whannell as director. After learning that it was a prequel instead of a sequel. After learning that much of the original cast was gone. I remained cautiously open and optimistic, yet still somewhat fearful of a potential downgrade in quality.
Thankfully, my optimism was paid back in full by this wonderfully fun, heartfelt and engrossing third entry. While it's not a perfect film, it's extremely well-constructed and shows not only just how much of a visual artist Whannell is in his own right, but also the power of this franchise as a whole.
We follow Quinn (Stefanie Scott), a teenage girl who lost her mother to cancer a year ago, as she is pursued by a dark, dangerous spectral figure known as the "Man who can't breathe." At his physical mercy after losing the use of her legs in a car accident, she is forced to call upon the services of medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) for help. But Elise's own dark past may prove too much of a hurdle for her to assist Quinn, leaving the girl vulnerable to attack from the spiritual forces of the ghostly world known as "The Further."
The most surprising thing about this chapter in my opinion was the shockingly emotional core of the storyline. While previous chapters have had personal matters at stake, this film really drives home how much personal pain and guilt can effect a person's life due to things like the loss of a loved one of the failure to achieve one's dreams. This is made all the more powerful by the wonderful performances of Scott and Shaye... particularly Shaye, who proves once again that she's one of the most charming and convincing genre actresses working today. This really is her movie, and indeed her franchise, through and through, and it's a pleasure seeing her given more room through this film's prequel status to develop her character more and more.
This is also a perfect proving ground for Whannell to show his own development as a filmmaker through his near-perfect visual direction of the material. Many people expressed doubt or worry in his capabilities prior to the film's release, but I am beyond happy to report that Whannell is truly a gifted director and that he expertly guides us through the story with style and atmospheric glee. With a keen eye for composition and some wonderfully eerie moments of inspired stylish thrills, Whannell is definitely one to watch, and I'm excited at the possible prospect of him directing future entries in the franchise.
If I was to complain about one thing this film perhaps doesn't 100% deliver on, though, it's the scares. The film does such a wonderful job at establishing characters, atmosphere and emotional stakes, and a good job at building the appropriate levels of tension, but I don't think it consistently pays off. For every scare that works, there's another that falls somewhat flat. For every well-developed scene leading to an perfectly implemented jump, there's another that just doesn't quite work. It's a bit uneven in the fear department, though thankfully, it has just enough genuinely frightening scares to stay afloat.
But that that relatively minor complaint aside, I was too charmed by the film's heart, performances (I didn't even mention the return of Whannell and Angus Sampson as the hilarious Specs and Tucker!) and style. And it leaves me only more excited at the idea of future installments.
I give "Insidious: Chapter 3" a well-earned 8 out of 10. Horror fans, especially those of this franchise, owe it to themselves to give this a shot.