In 2011, James Wan terrified audiences everywhere with Insidious. The film was a huge commercial success and even fared well on the critical front, with some critics claiming it to be the scariest film since The Exorcist. In 2013, Wan returned with Insidious: Chapter 2, surpassing the original in box office numbers, even if the critics weren’t as kind. After the second film, though, Wan moved on to bigger things (Furious 7 and The Conjuring 2), leaving writer Leigh Whannell – who wrote and performed in the first two installments – to take over the reigns as director for the first time in his career. Many people – myself included – were concerned once Whannell took the director position for Insidious: Chapter 3, wondering if he could successfully continue the series, or if the film would leave us WAN-ting more. It is with great pleasure that I can honestly admit that I was wrong to have any doubts.
Insidious: Chapter 3 was written and directed by the aforementioned Leigh Whannell and is a prequel to the first two installments of the Insidious franchise. The film follows Sean (Dermot Mulroney) as he enlists the help of retired parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye, of the first two films) to save his daughter from a malevolent spirit.
I’m a big fan of the Insidious franchise. I thought that the original film was a fantastic, haunting entry in the supernatural horror genre, and that the sequel was brilliant with how it tied things together with the first film. I went into Insidious: Chapter 3 hoping that, if nothing else, it just wouldn’t suck terribly bad and ruin a good thing… and it doesn’t. Actually, it’s quite good. Leigh Whannell was the perfect choice to take over for Wan, which, in hindsight, shouldn’t be surprising when you consider how long they’ve been working together. I really couldn’t even tell that James Wan was not behind the camera, and that’s a testament to Whannell and how quickly he adapted to becoming a director.
The acting, too, is great in the movie, particularly Lin Shaye as Elise. Elise has really become the hero of the Insidious franchise, and Lin Shaye is immaculate as always, showing great strength in the face of fear. Stefanie Scott is also surprisingly great as the daughter, Quinn. She’s perhaps best known for her time spent with the Disney Channel, so this is quite the change of scenery for her. The majority of the film revolves around Quinn and the horrific things that are happening to her. Scott plays the part well, making the audience afraid for her, and also tugging at our heartstrings from time to time.
Insidious is one of the scariest films of the decade, and unfortunately – though still a good movie – Insidious: Chapter 2 was lacking a bit in the scares department. Going into Chapter 3, I was worried that the few scares of the sequel would diminish completely with a third installment. It seems that I was wrong (again). Insidious: Chapter 3 ups the ante with its scares, proving to be much more frightening than Chapter 2, and flirting with the thrills provided by the original.
Final Thoughts: Insidious: Chapter 3 is scarier – and just as good – as the sequel that came before it. I had my doubts, but Leigh Whannell silenced them with competent direction and hair-raising sequences of terror. If you’re a fan of the first two films, you’ll likely find Insidious: Chapter 3 to be a solid, worthy entry into one of the decade’s greatest horror franchises.