It’s very important to note that the rating for “Insidious: Chapter 3’ is PG-13, which means that director-writer Leigh Whannell has structured his movie to be scary without having to rely on gore. Audiences have become so desensitized to blood and guts that horror movies now have to be smarter.
And that makes them better.
The film is the third in the series, but it goes back in time before the haunting of the Lambert family that made up the first two offerings. This is the story of how psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) was able to face her own demons to be able to help others.
Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) is a teen dealing with a lot of pain and sorrow after the death of her mother. An attempt to speak through the shroud of death turns into an invitation for a demon to haunt the young girl.
Her ability to deal with this haunting is complicated when an accident leaves Quinn confined to bed. Having her immobilized eliminates any of the traditional horror elements, such as being chased through dark halls and rooms. The fact she can’t move around adds to the tension when the demon begins to invade her living space.
Instead of just torturing Quinn with violent acts, Whannell builds tension with elements as simple as rapping on the walls to a full-blown close encounter of the creepy kind with the house demon.
A lesser film would have concentrated entirely on this battle between the living and dead. Whannell balances the terror with complicated characters.
Instead of just being fodder for fear, Dermot Mulroney’s role as the father of the young girl has depth. He’s trying to deal with the frustration of whatever is terrifying his daughter while still facing his own pain over the loss of his wife.
Mulroney never plays his character as some ghost-busting champion but as a father who wants to help but is at a complete loss of how to deal with factors far beyond his control. It’s a great case of remembering not just to re-act to events but to act when dealing with those events.
Shaye is equally strong as the psychic. Instead of being a confident force in the battle, Rainier has to deal with her own doubts and mortality before she can help others.
Movies that bank on gore tend to never let up on the bloody assault. Whannell understands that the best scares often come after the audience has had a quick respite. That comes in the form of two pseudo ghost hunters (played with great fun by Whannel and Angus Sampson) who provide comic relief. The next scares are always bigger after your guard has been let down.
“Insidious: Chapter 3” is a fun and chilling creep show that is more concerned with scares than being gross. The fact it’s a prequel means that you can jump into the series with this movie and then get caught up with the first two.
And, you can watch the first two movies with the lights on.
Insidious: Chapter 3
- Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott. Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson
- Director-writer: Leigh Whannell
- 97 minutes.
- Rated PG-13 language, violence, frightening images.