Overview: Serving as a prequel to the previous two films, Elise (Lin Shaye) assists Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a young woman terrorized by a demon. Stage 6 Films; 2015; PG-13; 97 minutes
The Next Chapter: Much like Ryan MacLean, I’m a big fan of the Insidious Duology. I think those two horror films separate themselves from the bunch of modern horror schlock we’ve gotten by actually having real three-dimensional characters in this well-constructed supernatural world (while also being really scary movies, obviously).
This next chapter totally continues in that respect, only as a prequel. The audience is reintroduced to Elise before she investigated the Lambert family haunting, and the film adds more depth to her character. It shows some of her pretty interesting backstory and also her inner struggles of being a paranormal investigator, which ties into the case of Quinn Brenner, who is another three-dimensional character with her own story. This chapter is the most character-driven out of the three, which makes this series not feel tired (as is typically the tendency in the third installment of any horror series).
The Phantom Menace: Surprisingly, Insidious 3 ends up being one of those rare films that excels in its prequel form (actually not that hard to do) in that it mostly tells a self-contained story with only brief hints of what is to come. Previously established characters, such as Specs and Tucker do make an appearance, but always to serve the overall story more than is expected from more traditional forced cameos. There is one previously established character that I found to be an unnecessary and unbelievable inclusion, but other than that, they were able to fit everything and everyone into the story organically, and actually apply known characters to enhance the current narrative focus.
No Wan: Unfortunately, the absence of James Wan is really felt. Nothing against the new director Leigh Whannell, as he does a good job for the most part, but the film sorely lacked Wan’s unique aesthetic, camera movement, and sense of location. The first ten minutes following the prologue hardly even felt like an Insidious film, but Whannell finds his own rhythm and is able to deliver on some really frightening sequences.
Overview: Now three good films into the Insidious series, I think it’s safe to call it the best modern horror series. With a fascinatingly weird world, a lot of well-developed characters, and movies ranging from darkly goofy to tremendously scary. What more is there to say besides bring on Chapter 4?