31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #9 – Insidious Chapter 3 (2015)

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Director: Leigh Whannell

Writer(s): Leigh Whannell

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Universal Pictures

Budget: $11.2m

Box Office: $113m

Release Date: 5 June, 2015

IMDb Rating: 6.10/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Dermot Mulroney – Sean Brenner

Stefanie Scott – Quinn Brenner

Angus Sampson – Tucker

Leigh Whannell – Specs

Lin Shaye – Elise Rainier

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

Inertia’s Insight

The directorial debut of horror penman Leigh Whannell couldn’t have been more fitting nor frightening for him – Insidious Chapter 3 is, as the title suggests, the third entry in the world of The Further that Whannell created, so it’s appropriate that he tackles subject matter he’s more than familiar with. But, at the same time, he steps in to the figuratively gigantic shoes of arguably modern horror’s master: his partner in crime, James Wan. Having grown with Wan over 10 years as they bloodily sliced their way through the noughties, you expect great things of Whannell – and overall, he delivers.

Insidious Chapter 3 finds us in prequel territory, with fan favourite Elise retired and grieving the loss of her husband. With only her dog Warren to comfort her, she spends her days with the curtains drawn and nights embracing his empty cardigan. It’s not until young Quinn Brenner arrives asking for a reading for her late Mother that Elise reluctantly finds herself drawn back in to conversations with the dead.

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It’s a contrast to the previous two films to see Elise so tired and drawn; she’s a shadow of the Elise we know and love (even the dead one), but once again Lin Shaye turns in an impeccable performance that makes Elise accessible to everyone. Though sad to see her this way, it feels right to see a more personal side to her, and to delve in to the chapters of her life that made her the hero we know and love.

We’re introduced to young Quinn when she comes to Elise for her reading, and we make our way in to her fractured life to see a girl becoming a woman a little too quickly. With the absence of her mother, Quinn becomes the matriarchal figure to her struggling father (played by stoney-faced Sylvester Stallone-lookalike Dermot Mulroney) and her young brother on the cusp of teendom. Fighting to make it through the day in the hopes of making it to a performing arts school, Quinn displays the classic symptoms of someone opening the door wide for possession.

Not content with the mental affliction that a haunting brings, Whannell strikes Quinn down in brutal fashion, opening her vulnerability as a car slams in to her with force, sending her flying across the road. It’s an effective scene that jolts you – one moment we’re squinting like Quinn to make out the strange frame stood at a distance, staring at her; the next minute we’re handheld running towards her as she lays crumpled.

And so, Quinn is laid up at home with nothing but her laptop for company. With two broken legs, she can’t get far and this exactly what her demon relies on. It’s a slow burner for the first half hour or so, but Whannell provides all the elements needed to set the stage – the ominous sounds of the oxygen mask, Quinn’s physical abilities disabled, her confined to her bed that challenges her mental strengths and, eventually, Elsie’s return to her gift.

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As Quinn spends the days and nights in her bed, the haunting soon sets in. Gradual and subtle at first, her suspicions of an otherworldy presence, fuelled by the crazy old lady that lives in the building who actually talks the most sense, are soon realised when the masked man makes his appearance.

This demon is a tonal shift from the demons we’ve seen in the previous two films and it secures Whannell’s stamp on the series. Before, we’ve seen almost pantomime-like demons with their exaggerated make-up and appearance the only downfall of the previous films; here, the demons and ghosts have a genuinely unsettling presence. The scene where he casually throws her from the bed and slowly walks around the room shutting the curtains and doors is absolutely terrifying.

As the haunting intensifies, her Father must push his scepticism to one side to bring in the experts to help his helpless daughter. Enter stage left: Specs and Tucker, in what is hands down one of the best introductions I’ve seen, serving the charismatic yet childish characters we’ve come to know and love perfectly.

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It makes perfect sense that these two would be the tacky Most Haunted of YouTube, running around empty houses with night vision and ‘jumping’ at the nearest creaking sound. It’s obvious they’ve never encountered the supernatural before, and it takes Elise’s shining armour arrival to save Quinn and whip Specs and Tucker in to shape.

The first venture in to The Further is great, and Whannell quickly grasps the tension and dream-like horror in the apartment corridor with various ghosts freaking us out, again shifting tonally away from the caricature entries of the past. There’s also an interesting nod to The Woman in Black and her role in Elise’s future demise, also cleverly explaining her reluctance to enter The Further.

Once Elise arrives to save the day, the final act picks up a frenetic pace as Quinn’s possession takes hold. There’s an effective use of sound when Quinn smashes her casts off and walks on broken limbs, and the eye at the back of her throat is a clever touch. Through dumb luck with Specs and Tucker and sheer determination with Elise, the masked man is banished and young Quinn is saved with the help of her Mother, in perhaps the only weak touch of the film.

This entry is very much about loss and how to move on. Just as those that haunt the living struggle to move on, so to do the living battle the constant pain of living without a loved one. Elise and Quinn share this emotion, and it’s this that brings the core of the film to the forefront. It’s Lin Shaye’s film and she absolutely nails it. Elise’s longing for her husband and her fight for good can only come from Shaye’s impeccable performance, and the heart-warming final scene in which she goes in to business with Specs and Tucker is bittersweet as we, the audience, know what fate awaits her.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • The film makes several references to ghosts and demons from the first two films, such as Lipstick Face, The Bride in Black and the Long-Haired Fiend.
  • Specs has the Casper logo on his jacket.

Quick Quote

BRIDE IN BLACK: This is how you die!
ELISE: Not today!


Tomorrow: Night #10 – Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

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