INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3
The principal character this time around is Lin Shayes medium where she is allowed to inhabit the centre of the show with effortless ease. The other returnees are Whannell and Angus Sampson as the ghostbusters and we see them teaming up with Lin Shaye at the end. Beyond that, you ask, what is the purpose of Insidious Chapter 3 as a prequel? What were the burning unexplained issues from the first film that they felt they had to answer? Sadly the answer seems to be, not much. Instead, all that we get is just more of the same with minor differences. The haunting of the Lambert family is replaced by the far less interesting haunting of teenager Stefanie Scott (who bears an uncanny resemblance to and could be the younger sister of Amber Tamblyn). The first half is just a ghost story with standard bumps and jumps a more stripped down version of the first half of Insidious while the second goes into the Insidious series more familiar territory of seances, journeys into the astral plane, confrontation with the demonic forces there and possession of the innocents who return. There is the feeling in much of this is being repeated because thats what the series leads you to expect of an Insidious film.
James Wan is absent from the directors chair although remains present as a producer and can be spotted in a minor cameo as the director at Stefanie Scotts audition and Leigh Whannell bravely tries to step in to fill his shoes. Wan creates such masterful and intense suspense and eerie jumps in all of his genre material that it may well be a doomed effort to try and stand up to what he has done. You do have to commend Whannell in that he gets close enough to the same territory some of the time. There are a number of scenes where he conjures a sense of dread and has an audience in breath-held suspense where we become aware there is a shadowy presence behind Stefanie Scotts wheelchair that then impels her into an empty room where she is attacked by a figure with stumps for limbs; another where it enters her room, throws her from the bed and then closes the curtains, door and switches off every light source. He does get the audience jumping. Yet for all that, Insidious Chapter 3 lacks James Wan and, though Whannell maintains a directorially capable show, it remains a weaker shadow of what has gone before.
Insidious Chapter 3 received quite a strong thumbs down from the critics who saw it at the preview and in other reviews. I dont think it is all bad if you want to call it a bad film, I invite anybody who does so to watch some more of the low-budget efforts in the same vein that this site gets sent on a regular basis. It is not up there with James Wans work but has a good deal more in the way of style than most other ghost stories that make their way out onto dvd/cable release. It certainly sits above the nearest point of comparison namely, what the Saw sequels degenerated into after James Wan left Saw, a work of masterful twists and turns and gruelling suspense that rapidly became only about serving up scenes of extreme gore and sadism.
This was followed by Insidious: The Last Key (2018).