Following the death of her mother, Quinn (Stefanie Scott) pays a visit to psychic Elise (Lin Shaye). When her attempt to contact her mother fails, she still believes her mother is trying to contact her. But after an accident that almost resulted in Quinn’s death, she wakes up and is now bed-ridden with two broken legs, Quinn begins to have terrifying experiences and vicious attacks. It isn’t too long before Quinn’s father Sean (Dermot Mulroney) enlists the help of Elise to rid the spirit trying to take over Quinn’s spirit.
This chapter of Insidious takes place before the first two films and follows Elise prior to the Lambert haunting. The first I found genuinely freaky, it had great jump scares, an excellent concept, and great atmosphere. The sequel I can’t say the same for. As a matter of fact, I severely dislike it. When news of a new film being released came about, I was skeptical, but the idea of it being a new story reassured me a little bit. When the trailers came out my thoughts changed instantly. It looked like it could easily be better than the second, but also had potential to be better than the first. The result ended up being extremely positive. I found this to be my favorite of the trilogy so far. The first one was a great intro to the story and The Further, as well as Elise. This prequel however, has everything I could look for in a supernatural film. While the first film has a very creepy atmosphere and solid story, there was something really simplistic about this film. The first film takes time to get into, and upon repeated viewings it seems to drag more and more. This one gives us enough time to know and like the characters before the terror begins. It also doesn’t throw in too many plot lines like the first two did and way too many moments explaining things. Although seeing the first two informs you enough about The Further to where no explanations are really needed, they still explain a little bit of it here, and that was how it should have been done in the first place. In all honesty, this easily could have been a great standalone film. There were some connections to the first film, but even if you hadn’t seen them, you wouldn’t feel like you were missing something. To me that’s how well-written this film was. While the atmosphere wasn’t as creepy as the first film, it still made The Further chilling enough, and didn’t get too crazy with the set up and all of the creepy spirits walking around. It also features some great jump scares that even the ones shown in the trailer work. Not only that but there is some good build up during the suspenseful scenes. One being Elise in her dark basement, and several moments where she journeys into The Further. The story also gives us likable characters to root for, whereas the characters in the original two films I really didn’t care too much for. The new spirit this time around (The Man Who Can’t Breathe) is just about as creepy as the Bride in Black from the first two, if not slightly more terrifying. Another major plus is that the ghost hunters Tucker and Specks, while unfortunately present, are in it for a short amount of time, and aren’t as annoying as they were in the first two films.
As far as acting goes, this one also has the most solid performances. Lin Shaye is better than ever, we finally follow her character throughout the whole film and get to see her more as her own person. Not only does Shaye provide her fearful scenes perfectly, she also shows off her more emotional side in some scenes which really sells her character and performance more. Best of all, Shaye really knows how to play a bad ass in this chapter and makes Elise one of the best characters in horror officially. Dermot Mulroney does a fine job with his role, as basic as it is, but he does extremely well with it despite that, and by the end we can really see the care and love his character has for his daughter. Finally, we are given an amazing breakout performance from Stefanie Scott. Scott plays the very likable Quinn with such ease that it appears as if she could be playing herself, she is that easy to buy. When she needs to get into scared mode, she does this perfectly without being over-the-top and annoying. The way she acted in these scenes seemed a believable reaction unlike most young actresses who try to act scared. The same is said for her own emotional scenes, nothing too over-dramatic, but just right. She is definitely one that I look forward to seeing in more horror films with the great talent she gives off here.
Overall, Insidious: Chapter 3, in my opinion, is as perfect of a prequel/sequel that I could ask for. Which is very rare in horror land. Strong writing and directing by Leigh Whannell, excellent performances by the cast, and great use of scares and atmosphere.