Unable to attract previous stars Rose Byrne (Spy) and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring), or wait for original director James Wan to complete Furious Seven, the Insidious franchise offers a prequel to the first two films instead. Lin Shaye has long been the strongest glue holding Insidious slightly above other horror franchises, Chapter 3 finally explores her character in depth. Mulroney (The Grey) joins the cast as the most well-known face, however the plot and script take a back seat to gruesome scare tactics that will have even the calmest viewer jumping out of their seat. Chapter 3 is actually the directorial debut of Leigh Whannell, who has played Specs in all three films.

 Years before the Lambert hauntings, Elise Rainier (Shaye) had given up on physic readings and helping the living connect with the dead. Following the suicide of her beloved husband, Elise was all but retired until 17-year-old Quinn Brenner (Scott) showed up on her doorstep. Reluctantly, Elise hears her story, attempts to contact the girls recently deceased mother, but senses great evil around the teenager. It doesn’t take long for the demon haunting Quinn to reveal itself, causing an accident that leaves the girl with two broken legs, confined to her bed for the summer. Things go from bad to worse in their apartment building as Quinn is terrorized night and day, forcing her father (Mulroney) to beg Elise for help.

 The film opens with some great moments between a stressed father and his spoiled brat daughter, as he pokes fun of her for taking pictures of her breakfast instead of eating it. “No one cares what you are having for breakfast.” Besides identifying stereotypes associated with teenage girls from modern day, Scott doesn’t bring much to the role that wasn’t written out for her. Losing the talent of someone like Byrne is a big blow to this franchise. Thankfully the writers choose to increase the mythology of the Elise character, although we know she survives this terrifying chapter to assist the Lambert’s. Chapter 3 does explore how Elise began working with Specs and Tucker (Angus Sampson) which provide the film with some of the few light hearted moments.  

 What the filmmakers have mastered with this film, is how to scare the bejesus out of the audience with silence, incredibly frightening images and sounds. The use of the slow creepy zoom, or watching the back of a characters head only for them to turn around in the face of a monster, is used so many times as a gimmick only the sounds provide the scare. The filmmakers also know their audience, we get the “awe” when Elise’s dog gets a close up, and a “watch out” as we peer down long hallways. Whether intentional or not, watching Chapter 3 in the theater is an interactive community experience.

Final Thought – The audience brings the fear, not the script.

Grade C+

By: Dustin Chase