A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how
gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to
contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted
by a dangerous supernatural entity.
Insidious: Chapter 3
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Starring Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Lin Shaye
Better describing this as Chapter Zero, seeing as the story that we were familiar with up until now has not yet happened as this origin tale unfolds. James Wan ups sticks and leaves the directing duties up to the debuting Leigh Whannell here (although he isn’t new to screenwriting for Wan, fact fans). This is either a good or bad thing, depending on what you made of the previous two efforts that James Wan had helmed.
Seemingly saving money on the casting (and this could be a prequel for that very reason) there is a lack of both Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson here, that appeared in the previous two titles in the franchise. Lin Shaye, however, reprises her role of Further wanderer Elise Rainier. She is joined this time around most notably by Dermot Mulroney (Sean Brenner) and on screen daughter Stefanie Scott (Quinn Brenner) upon which much of the focus is placed.
Concerning events that happened prior to what we already know and involving an entirely different family, the plot that ties the films together is that pertaining to Elise Rainier as opposed to the Lamberts featured previously. It doesn’t really rely on any previous knowledge of the franchise and you can safely sit down to this episode without having to know much, or anything, of what had happened before. In fact, dependent upon your perception of what has gone before, no knowledge may be something of a bonus.
Imbibed with much more emotional heft than previous outings, this may even bring some to tears at times, which is an unusual symptom for your standard horror/possession flick and as such, may disappoint as many as it impresses. The story of Quinn’s slow decline into the Further, aided by a demon that she accidentally brings forth when trying to contact her dead mother, is well paced and never actually becomes tiresome, despite the fact that this is far from original. Like the first in the series, you might suggest that the time spent in the third act of the film in the aformentioned underworld is a little laborious and overlong, but Shaye is never anything but an engaging turn, regardless of her surroundings.
Whannell does a very good job indeed with his first feature directing assignment here and ensures the scares and tension are never more than a couple of minutes away and the score compliments the mood of the project as well as ever. The performances by all are adequate, but Shaye stands out as the highlight, and it is pleasing she receives a favourable amount of screen time this time around.
In all, probably the best of the three films on offer in the franchise that can also stand alone. Those worried that the absence of Wan as director would ruin it couldn’t have been more wrong, and whilst this is not groundbreaking by any means, this is a good deal more satisfying than we may rightly have expected beforehand.