June 5, 2015
The first two "Insidious" films were about how the embattled Lambert family was helped by one Elise Rainier to fight the ghosts that had latched on to them. This frail-looking, soft-spoken elderly lady is a psychic who uses her gift to help people communicate with the dead by being able to enter the spirit dimension called "The Further". Here in "Insidious: Chapter 3", we get to know Elise more as she becomes the central character and we learn how she had evolved into the demon fighter we know.
In this present episode, we go two years before the events of the first Insidious film. Elise Rainier had already retired from contacting spirits because a malevolent female ghost had been threatening to kill her whenever Elise made spirit contacts. Young Quinn Brenner sought her services to talk to her recently departed mother Lilith. After initial resistance, Elise relented and tried to help Quinn make contact.
However, in that session, an evil spirit dubbed The Man Who Can't Breathe, a wheezy old man with an oxygen mask, seemed to have latched on to poor Quinn causing the teen to experience serious physical injuries and various other eerie manifestations. As the ghostly activity in their apartment escalate, Quinn's father Sean sought Elise's assistance again to help Quinn out of her ghostly predicament. Can Elise conquer her own ghosts in time to help Quinn conquer hers?
After having known Elise Rainier from the previous two Insidious films, I have grown fond of this brave woman. With her kind face and gentle voice, veteran actress Lin Shaye imbues Elise with a serene grandmotherly demeanor which audiences can easily root for when her character experiences adversities. Her climactic spirit battle scene here in Chapter 3 drew positive audience response when Elise uncharacteristically displayed her own brand of badass bravado.
I enjoyed the part where they showed the origin of the Spectral Sightings team of mohawked techie Tucker and nerdy writer Specs, played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell. Like in the two previous films, these two guys effectively provide the humorous relief in the proceedings. As the victim of the ghostly attacks, Stefanie Scott was very natural and likeable in her portrayal of Quinn. She was adequately supported by Dermot Mulroney as her harassed single father Sean.
Writer Leigh Whannell also tries on the directorial gloves for the first time for this film. Certainly he drew a lot from the original director James Wan's style to keep the distinct "Insidious" atmosphere intact. Plenty of the horror here were jump scares -- those long silent pauses that were shattered by loud blasts of music and a sudden spooky image on screen will jolt you. Despite being a prequel, Whannell also effectively injected elements which tied in with the first two films like the Bride in Black and the Red-Faced Ghost, whose unexpected appearances surely excited "Insidious" fans.
Overall, I would suspect that fans of the first "Insidious" films will appreciate this film more. I think this sentimental attachment we feel towards Elise and the other continuing characters contributed much to my appreciation for this third chapter. Part 4 is such a welcome prospect. 7/10.