Insidious: Chapter 3
If sequels are often disappointing and financially motivated, then prequels – as Leigh Whannel’s Insidious: Chapter 3 is – are even more so. Yet, in a movie series like the Insidious franchise, it rarely matters to the viewer. This is straightforward, cheap horror and it is done undeniably well.
There can be little commendation for the film’s hope of being original. With Quinn Brenner’s attempts to contact her dead mother and the subsequent attacks on the teenage girl by an evil entity of the dead, the script abounds with the most cringe-worthy of clichés: “Not today!”, ripostes psychic heroine Elise when told by a demon that it will take her life, provoking fond yet untimely memories of Buzz Lightyear. We are also treated to several exasperatingly sentimental plot changes, whilst much of the characterisation could almost have been taken from a “how-to-make-your-very-own-horror-movie” tutorial. Consequently, the concept of this prelude to the Insidious cycle is lacking in any legitimate psychological terror for the audience. Insidious: Chapter 3 just isn’t…insidious.
What Whannel does attain, though, is the scare factor. In playing Elise, Lin Shaye’s valiant attempts to implant genuine trauma in the mind of the viewer are not supported by the rest of the cast, or by the core hypothesis of the film. Ultimately, they are overshadowed by some simple but effective terror tactics. Tension is slowly built until some sort of horrifying demon-cum-ghost suddenly appears on screen, accompanied by an ear-splitting range of sound effects. The usual tell-tale signs are present: a vulnerable character left alone, the emergence of an eerie string soundtrack, and a suspicious lack of action on camera. Yet, despite their predictable nature, these scenes rarely fail to incite an abrupt jolt of shock and a quickened heartbeat: you know it’s coming every time, but it still always gets you.
The greatest horror movies in the history of cinema – think The Shining, Pyscho and The Exorcist – have been psychological thrillers with harrowing stories that invaded the minds of those who dared to watch. Insidious: Chapter 3 never threatens to achieve this, but then perhaps it isn’t meant to. Its aim is to frighten and shock, rather than traumatise and disturb, and, although this prevents it from being regarded as high-class cinema, it comfortably accomplishes the simple objectives of modern blockbuster horror.
Insidious: Chapter 3 is released nationwide on 5th June 2015.
Watch the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 3 here: