Who knew summer-time was the new Halloween season, but alas, Hollywood must know more than I. On the coattails of the recently released “Poltergeist” comes the third installment of the Insidious series, “Insidious: Chapter 3.” If you haven’t seen the first and second chapters (I didn’t either), no worries as “Chapter 3” is the prequel to the original and the sequel. That seems to be the trend these days. This new film gives the backstory of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and how she became the tough-don’t-mess-with-me ghost buster. We find the young teen, Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), who has recently lost her mother to cancer, trying to contact the dead and is reaching out to Elise for more help. But, as Elise enlightens Quinn and the viewers, when you contact one dead person, you contact them all.
“Insidious: Chapter 3” is on many levels just a typical creepy horror movie. However, where most films in this genre are comically ridiculous, this one is comically good fun. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to be scared. I think Cedar Point amusement park banks on this fact every summer. Is it a predictable story? Yes, but the story-line and its progression keeps you hooked. The many moments that are classic horror film “gotchas” truly do "get you” as you find yourself jumping in your chair and gasping. Then, realizing that they “got ya,” you have to laugh at yourself and their success in doing so.
The special effects in this film are good, but don’t blow you away. However, ominous music playing constantly beneath the film along with the camera angles do. Seeing the long, never-ending hallway dimly lit in gruesome shades of red and purple somehow augment that foreboding feeling as well. And you know that they are going to put the characters in situations that they just shouldn’t go into. You know the ones I’m talking about---don’t put your hand under the bed (I still can’t do that and I’m, well, I’m over 30), and don’t put your head out the window with broken shards of glass. These are just classic scare tactics that still work. The writers and director know the formula to create the well-balanced unnerving nuances in a horror film. This just proves that the third time is the charm.
Where this film lacks is in some of the acting. Yes, I know this is a horror film and really, what should I expect, right? I don’t expect Academy Award performances, but believability is important. Dermot Mulroney plays Sean, Quinn’s recently widowed father who is struggling with balancing work and raising his two children. He appears as stressed as I do while sitting on my deck having a glass of wine. The stress just isn’t there. Then we have the verbal interaction between the siblings, Quinn and Alex, which comes across very stilted and rehearsed sounding. Thankfully, Lin Shaye is there to save the day, in more ways than one, with her role of Elise. She is one strong, older, beautiful woman who has suffered and persevered. She brings a level of believability and credibility to a genre of film that generally isn’t perceived in this way. Lin steals the show with her strength in character and her ability to convey Elise’s pain and power. Having this type of role, written by Leigh Whannell, for an older woman is truly empowering and refreshing.
“Insidious: Chapter 3” brings back the good old-fashioned feel to a horror flick without too much gore. It’ll make you jump and try to warn the characters, knowing what’s going to happen, but it still scares you---and then you laugh. The typical fear of death and of the unknown is the common theme in these types of films and can still work if you’ve got a decent story. “Insidious: Chapter 3” does. With a strong and talented main character, spot-on cinematography, and perfectly paired music, this film works for its genre. If you enjoy horror films that aren’t too gory, but are scary in a fun sort of way, you’re going to be thoroughly entertained by this film.
2 1/2 Stars