Blu-ray Review: “Insidious: Chapter 3” Deserves So Much Better

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

When “Insidious” was released back in 2010, I went to see it based on good word of mouth and I was not disappointed. Director James Wan had crafted an exceptionally creepy ghost story that was not reliant on gore and buckets of blood, instead, he went back to basics and created a story and characters that we genuinely cared about from the very beginning and believe me, that is half the battle because if the audience doesn’t like or can’t relate to the central characters, as a filmmaker, you have failed. “Insidious 2” continued the story and while it had some good moments, overall, it was not as frightening as part 1. Now we have “Insidious: Chapter 3,” whose tagline reads “The darkest chapter goes back to the beginning.”

So, in essence, this film is a prequel whose storyline takes place a few years before the events of the first two movies. I think the reason for that is because they killed off one of the major characters, a fan favorite, in the second movie and by going back in time, they can bring that person back. While the setting and characters are new, the plot stays true to the formula that worked so well in the original two movies. As the movie begins, a young teenager, Quinn (Stefanie Scott), comes knocking on the door of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), an older lady who was once a renowned psychic. She informs the young girl that she doesn’t do that any more but realizing that Quinn traveled a long way to see her, she invites her in for a quick chat.

Naturally, after listening to Quinn talk about her dead mother and the fact that she tried to contact her by herself, she agrees to reach out to see if her mother is there but instead, she disturbs an evil entity who is hell bent on assuming possession of Quinn’s soul. Not wanting to scare Quinn, she informs her that she will be okay but to never try and reach out to her mother again because when she calls out to one dead person, they can all hear her. Quinn goes back home, where she lives with her dad Sean (Dermot Mulroney) and kid brother Alex (Tate Berney) and tries to get on with her life but it is too late, unbeknownst to her, she has already opened that door.

Strange things begin to happen, small and inconsequential at first but gradually, they gain momentum and become extremely violent until Sean has no choice but to contact Elise and beg her for help before it’s too late. The director this time around is Leigh Whannell, the writer of the first two movies in his feature-film directorial debut and unfortunately, he lacks the proficiency and dexterity of original director James Wan. Where Wan was successfully able to scare you using creative sound effects and innovative camera techniques, here, Whannell relies too much on conventional and hackneyed gimmicks like things jumping out of the dark and excessively loud noises.

The volume appeared to be cranked up all the way at the screening I attended so even if a door closed or a phone rang, it was bound to startle the audience, simply because it was so loud. “Insidious: Chapter 3” is a movie that has some genuinely frightening moments, filled with authentic performances and beautiful, crisp images but it takes so long just to get started, that you find yourself looking at your watch in the interim and that is not a good sign.

On Blu-ray™ & DVD Oct. 6.

James McDonald
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