Before getting into the body of this review (possession innuendo intended) first things first: the title. I hate it. Pretentious as it is, it makes no sense: Insidious: Chapter 3 takes place before Insidious or Insidious: Chapter 2. Thus, if this was a book, Insidious: Chapter 3 would be the prologue, or the last chapter of the previous book. I hate the title.
Though that’s not to say I hated the film. Having not been a fan of the first two (the first Insidious film literally started with someone snoring and went downhill from there), I felt Chapter 3 at least tried scaring through suspense.
The film follows Quinn Brenner, an aspiring actress whose mother has recently died. While attempting to contact her mother’s spirit, Quinn soon finds that she’s drawn the attention of some unwanted demons.
While Insidious focused on the adult-centred fears of house-invasion and child-death, Chapter 3 aims – and smartly so – for its target audience: teenagers. The identity of a teenager is usually linked to their bedroom, their inner-sanctum in their parents’ house, and so that is where the horror happens for Quinn. And those are the moments that will keep you up at night.
Unfortunately, the film moves away from this, concentrating instead on the psychic, Elise (Lin Shaye, returning from Insidious). While Shaye’s performance is by far the best aspect of the film, the scares become weaker.
Some scares are cheap quiet-quiet-BANG scares, but some are earned through atmosphere. The film uses the dynamic range of sound well, making the scares ‘slightly’ less predictable. As Eli Roth once said, “If you’re frightened in a horror film, don’t close your eyes, cover your ears.”
However, there are issues. You don’t need to have seen the first two Insidious films, in fact, the movie kinda hopes you haven’t. It betrays the logic set out in the previous films, and this lack of continuity is distracting. Also, although not quite the worst of ‘cattle-prod’ horror, there’s probably three or four jump-scares too many. While these moments can often be crowd-pleasing, they lessen the atmosphere, making the film entertaining while you’re there, forgettable after you leave.
The worst thing about Insidious: Chapter 3 in some ways has nothing to do with the film: the audience. Dear god, the audience I saw it with were dreadful. And by that I don’t mean full of dread, I mean chatty and noisy and on phones off phones on phones again. From the way too touchy-feely couple beside me, to the sound of lips suckling on taco-cheese encrusted fingers, to the group of gal-pals acting as if on a hen-night, the audience appeared as if they’d never seen a horror film before. Or even been to a cinema.
I’d love to assure that this was just the audience I saw it with, but unfortunately, there is a track record. When The Conjuring (same production company) was released, cinema managers often had to shut down screenings, just to tell the audience to shut up. Maybe it’s wrong of me to begrudge the audience their amusement. That’s what they were there for, right? To have a good time? I suppose, but I wish it wasn’t at the expense of my enjoyment.
Insidious: Chapter 3 has the right intentions, but those intentions aren’t original. That together with the fact that the film eschews the logic of the first two films, and that the audience are slobbering messes, makes Insidious: Chapter 3 not particularly worth your while.