Insidious: Chapter 3 gets the horror franchise back on track

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 5, 2015

By Steve Newton

The first Insidious movie was quite impressive, boasting plenty of genuinely creepy scares before slipping into silliness in its final act. Two years later its 2013 followup, Insidious: Chapter 2, proved a major disappointment, flawed from the get-go.

The new Insidious: Chapter 3, a prequel set “a few years before the Lambert Haunting”, falls somewhere in between the two, quality-wise, although it’s hardly required viewing if you’ve already seen the first.

Stefanie Scott is good as Quinn Brenner, a teenager coping with the recent cancer death of her mother and a chaotic family life with her harried dad (Dermot Mulroney) and frustrating little brother (Tate Berney). Hoping to reconnect one last time with her mom she pays a visit to the franchise’s elderly medium Elise (Lin Shaye), who warns: “If you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you.”

First-time director Leigh Whannell—who scripted all three films—proves very adept at first, effectively helming a pivotal car accident and the Brenner family’s shadowy run-ins with the gooey-footprint-leaving demon haunting the suite above theirs.

But just as in Insidious, things start to falter in the last 30 minutes, when Elise—in the company of the same two ghostbusting geeks from the previous films—transports herself into the limbolike realm known as “The Further” to save Quinn from the malevolent force draining the girl’s lifeblood.

Around this time the dark tone of the film gets diluted by nonsense as the meek-looking Elise transforms into a righteous demon-basher. “Come on, bitch!” she taunts one butt-ugly hellspawn after ridiculously tossing another one across a room.

Since the first two Insidious films grossed nearly $260-million (at a cost of six-and-a-half), you know Blumhouse Productions—the company also making huge bucks off the Paranormal Activity and Sinister franchises—is gonna keep pumping them out every two years. For the 2017 version they could do worse than bring Scott back to play Quinn again, but I think it’s time to put the aging Elise character to rest, especially after this over-the-top portrayal.

And she did get strangled to death in the first film, after all.

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