INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 opened this weekend, taking audiences back into the dark world of The Further. This time the story takes us back to the events before the Lambert haunting to focus on Elise and her struggle to help a family vanquish the evil spirit that is tormenting them. Quinn asks Elise to help her reach out to her recently deceased mother. Elise, coping with the death of her husband, is reluctant to do so, and warns Quinn not to try to reach out on her own. However, after an accident leaves Quinn incapacitated, Elise must face her own fears in order to save Quinn from the darkness trying to consume her.
First of all, I’m supremely disappointed that this movie wasn’t called INSIDIOUS 3: HOW ELISE GOT HER GROOVE BACK, because that’s essentially the central focus of the film. Elise has long since been established as a powerful medium in the previous chapters of this franchise, one who has spent a lifetime battling demons and subduing evil spirits to help people dealing with a realm beyond their comprehension. However, in this film her grief has left her in a venerable position; she fears entering The Further, as there is an (insidious) entity lurking within it, one that wants her dead and is waiting for the opportunity to strike. This is the reason for her reluctance to help Quinn, since doing so would mean risking her life. Ultimately, she must come face to face with her own fears and accept her own mortality if she is going to help anyone, least of all herself. This is a difficult journey for Elise, and we as the audience truly feel for her since we know that her choice in doing so will ultimately seal her fate at the end of the first film. That being said, expanding on her character is probably the best thing this franchise could have done, and it’s nice to see the film series go in that direction. Frankly, I would gladly watch a few more of these movies if they were just about Elise and her Ghostbusting crew (in fact, Paul Feig, is it too late to give Lin Shaye a cameo in your reboot? Because please make that a thing!).
However, as much as we feel for Elise’s emotional struggle to come to terms with her own destiny, ultimately we know she will survive to the beginning of the first INSIDIOUS, meaning that it is up to the rest of the characters to make the audience feel suspense for the set up of the film’s climax; luckily this is done extremely well. One of the wonderful things about this particular entry in the franchise is the set up for many of the scares endured by poor Quinn. Like its predecessors, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 knows a thing or two about establishing a dark and creepy atmosphere, one that has you searching every corner of the darkness for something that might be lurking in wait for our heroes. This is especially true after Quinn is immobilized as a result of her injury, forcing her to be confined to a wheelchair. This confinement means that she is unable to run away or defend herself in any way when strange and frightening things begin to happen around her. Depriving Quinn of both her fight and flight abilities when a malevolent being enters into her home is a brilliant set up for some truly chilling scenes, and the movie doesn’t squander any opportunity to take advantage of this scenario. Not only this, but because she is already injured, seeing her attacked in such a vulnerable state makes the audience feel every blow that she endures. I know I was definitely squirming in my chair, giving empathetic groans any time she was attacked. It made every scene where she was alone feel even more intense than anything I had felt in the previous films.
That being said, there are some issues that I am taking with this entry in the series. Director Leigh Whannell definitely knows how to establish good atmosphere and dramatic tension, but for the first time in the franchise, there is sadly an over reliance on jump scares, undermining a lot of the great set ups for these scenes. This will undoubtedly disappoint many horror fans, as the first two films, while not devoid of jump scares, used them sparingly and with proper pacing; the crux of the scares was always subtly to enhance the atmosphere. Another problem is that there are a few things that are becoming a little too familiar from Blumhouse productions; much like INSIDIOUS 2 felt like it was borrowing from THE CONJURING, the other James Wan film that came out two months earlier. There was one scene from INSIDIOUS 3 in particular that I felt was better executed in UNFRIENDED, another recent Blumhouse film that came out this year. On its own, this isn’t too egregious, but it makes me worried that Blumhouse productions are going to start setting up their own clichés. Blumhouse is a unique production company, but if they’re not careful, all of their films are going to start looking the same.
One thing that may make or break this movie for many is the third act. While some may view it as a fitting end to help set up the first film, other people may see it as being a little too cheesy for what they might be anticipating from a horror film. While I did find the third act to have its fair helping of cheese, the third act for INSIDIOUS and INSIDIOUS: Chapter 2 also follows this pattern to an extent, so it’s come to be expected at this point. However, for me, it was really gratifying to watch Elise find her inner strength and put demons back in their place. All in all, I really enjoyed watching this movie. It’s not as scary as the first film, but watching Elise work to overcome these obstacles was both extremely moving and thoroughly entertaining. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a solid entry in the franchise. If you’re not a fan of scary movies, I can’t say that this is the film you should use to ease yourself into the horror genre, but I would still recommend it because I think watching Elise’s character arc is worth the extra jump scares.
What did you think of the film? Were you excited to go back to The Further, or do you think this series should have stayed in the dark? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Be sure to also check out the first Movie Chickk Quick Review on The Popcorn Talk Network!
~ Megan Salinas
Follow me on Twitter at: @themenguin