Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) - Movie Review
Flash-forward two years after our last review. James Wan is becoming a force to reckoned with in Hollywood thanks to Fast & Furious 7 and writer Leigh Whannell is gaining some speed on his own thanks to his work on Cooties and The Mule. A new instalment of the Insidious series is in the works with Whannell set to return as writer and in his supporting role. However, he is now also going to be directing, with this being his debut. With several returning faces from previous instalments, and new cinematographer (Brian Pearson) and editor (Timothy Alverson) being brought on board, Whannell might just have the tools he needs to pull this off. Given how the last cinematographer would go on to try and demolish the Conjuring legacy with Annabelle, replacing him means that we're already off to a good start Only one way to find out.

The plot: Set a few years prior to the events of the first film, Quinn (Stefanie Scott) is a budding actress with hopes of attending a drama school in New York. However, after being hit by a car and getting both her legs broken, she is restricted to her bed and wheelchair until she heals. Unfortunately, she has started noticing creepy disturbances happening in her apartment block with her father Sean (Dermot Mulroney). Wanting to reach out, thinking that it’s her deceased mother trying to make contact, she enlists the help of psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) to help shed some light on what is going on around Quinn.

Easily the biggest thing that has held this series back is how inordinately screwy some of the more supposed-to-be tense moments could get. Whether it’s the garish New Nightmare-esque stylings of the Red-Faced Demon to the laughter-inducing melodrama courtesy of Parker’s mother, the last two films have always had something holding them back from being as good as they could be. This time, aside from the ending and Tucker’s interesting choice of haircut, this is easily the most straight-faced of all the films so far. We get a few jump scares here, because even the best of them can’t avoid them at this point, but when they do happen, they feel deserved more times than not. The rest of the time, rather than letting the music dictate the scares, it will put all of its focus on the atmosphere and the sheer fact of the situation sink in. The premise itself is easily the most nerve-racking we’ve seen in the series so far: A girl is being haunted by a presence, but she is physically helpless to stand against it. That idea alone gives this film an edge and, thankfully, the production doesn’t betray it at any point. The oily black footprints The Man Who Can’t Breathe leaves in his wake, his mannerisms as described from when he was alive, how we see him interacting with Quinn at times during the film; it all gives a very eerie vibe to the majority.

When it isn’t aiming at sheer chills, Whannell is also rather adept at delivering pathos as well. This is largely due to how amazing Lin Shaye is in this film: She’s emotional, strong, cheerful and even kind of badass at times, creating a performance that fits in nicely with what has already been established in prior installments, as well as using adding to the overall story in a way that feels like it was planned this way from day one. The rest of the cast also do amazingly well in their roles: Stefanie Scott nails down the powerless dread of her character; Mulroney is a bit of a dick early on, but he is still good at portraying the need to keep his family running smoothly after the passing of their mother; and Michael Reid MacKay is very creepy as The Man Who Can’t Breathe. Honestly, the only weak points in the cast come from Whannell and Sampson. Maybe it’s because this is an earlier point in their respective arcs, before their work with Elise made them give more dedication to their work, but even their status as the comic relief doesn’t fit this film all that well either. It could just be a reaction to how this film feels a lot more focused than the last two, and their goofiness feels out-of-place as a result. All the same, even if they feel off, they are still good performances in their own right.

All in all, while this isn’t quite as chilling as the original, it is also the most consistent of the series so far. Thanks to the excellent acting, particularly from Lin Shaye, the approach to the haunted house set-up this time around and the execution of both the scares and the more emotional moments, I’d easily call this the best Insidious film yet. This is a remarkable effort from Leigh Whannell, and I can only hope that he doesn’t give up the director’s chair just yet; given the current horror landscape, we could use more films like this.

No comments:

Post a Comment