Into the Further we go a third time. 

The Insidious films are weird in that reactions to them are all over the place. Personally I like them because they feel like old-school ghost stories, made with low budgets and an emphasis on sound design, camerawork and toeing the scary/goofy line. Since the first two films made obscene amounts of money, Insidious: Chapter 3 was a given. But stars Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson and Barbara Hershey didn’t return. And neither did director James Wan, who has cashed in on his success by directing Furious 7 and the upcoming Aquaman film.

Chapter 3 stars Lin Shaye as Badass Psychic Elise Ranier, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannel. As the co-writer of the first two films, Whannel took over for James Wan, making his directing debut.

Quinn (Scott) is an aspiring actress, dealing with the loss of her mother and the added burden placed on her by her dad (Mulroney). She feels her mother’s spirit around her. When she contacts Badass Psychic Elise Ranier (Shaye), she discovers she is being haunted by a malignant spirit who wants to take her into the Further.

Insidious Chapter 3

Chapter 3 takes place before the Lamberts deal with their ghosts, and as such, feels like an origin story for Elise and her team of paranormal investigators Specs (Whannel) and Tucker (Sampson). Chapter 3 is pretty standalone–if the Insidious films turn into an episodic series of Elise going around getting rid of ghosts, that would be amazing. Elise is the real backbone of Chapter 3 and Lin Shaye is super fun to watch. Indeed, this movie feels like an episode of Ghost Whisperer; I liked that show a little so I don’t mean that as a total insult.

Quinn’s family life is interesting enough that I was hardly bored when the story was focused on her. The relationship between Quinn and her dad is compelling–he’s using her to parent her little brother because he can’t deal with the loss of his wife. Her dad is a little clueless but he does step up for her. Luckily there aren’t any prolonged scenes of him not believing her when Quinn starts to get attacked by the ghost. Whannel did try to bring his horror film some kind of eomotional resonance and for the most part he succeeded. Stefanie Scott and Dermot Mulroney are pretty good in their roles. I don’t think Scott is going to be the next Scream Queen but she did not embarrass herself.

I know some people aren’t huge fans of the Specs and Tucker duo. I’m not either. I can see why they exist–to remind the audiences not to take these films too seriously. Their bickering is never as funny as it should be but you’d expect for ghost detectives to be a little eccentric.

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Despite taking the reins from a stylistic director like James Wan, Whannel does not straight up copy of Insidious and Chapter 2. While the first film was a throwback slow-burn haunted house story, the second one–and this third one–did rely a lot on jump scares. I don’t mind jump scares; they can be a lot of fun in the moment. But they’re not very, well, insidious. Looking at the those old pictures of Josh in the first film was one of the best parts. Here, there’s not much to hold onto you after the film ends.

While I like the look of the film, I wish the scares had been crafted a little better. Because it’s a prequel, I wasn’t ever truly scared for Elise. That’s a problem inherent to prequels. Insidious: Chapter 3 is decent enough but misses the mark in becoming a horror classic.

'Insidious: Chapter 3' Takes You to the Beginning
This 3rd part can be enjoyable but it doesn't have many memorable scares.
Rating5.5
Pros
  • Elise Ranier: Badass Psychic
  • Sound/production design, camerawork
Cons
  • Not very memorable
  • Relies too much on jump scares
5.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
89%

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About The Author

Manish first came to love horror through Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Roman Polanski's Repulsion. He still sometimes has to sleep with the TV on after catching the latest scary flick. Manish loves ghost stories, psycho-thrillers and gory horror-comedies. You can check out more of Manish's writing at his personal blog "Mathur & the Marquee" or on twitter @hippogriffrider.