Insidious: Chapter 3
Solid horror prequel from Leigh Whannell that foregrounds Lin Shaye's psychic
This horror prequel written and directed by Leigh Whannell delves into the past files of psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) to investigate the strange case of teenager Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) who, when trying to contact her late mother, raises an evil spirit who wishes to consume her soul.
The writer behind the first two Insidious instalments, Whannell (who also played Specs in both films, a character who returns here), turns his hand to directing for the first time in a noble and sincere effort that attempts to explore the overwhelming power of grief and the growing pains of a teenage girl. He places the charismatic Shaye in a leading role, allowing her to shade in the character of Elise who, following a bad experience, is finding it tough to re-enter the spiritual field. And he effectively builds tension with the presence of a creepy ghost who trails sticky footprints in his wake as he stalks Quinn's every move.
Sadly, Whannell is a bit too preoccupied with tying up loose ends that don't need tying up, and his involvement in every entry in this trilogy means there are in-jokes galore. However, he does deliver a lot of fun for fans of the franchise; the film's latter half takes a humorous turn with the arrival of the 'Spectral Sightings' ghost-hunting duo, and many of the jump scares hit the right shocking notes too.
Dermot Mulroney overdoes it as Quinn's protective father Sean, and the dramatic scenes between father and daughter are both stilted and hammy, meaning it's difficult to become truly involved in their nightmare. The horror elements and ideas are strong but serious issues aren't handled quite as slickly.
Whannell delivers a solid calling card for future horror endeavours with this eerie prequel, but the overabundance of references to his own work and genre precursors such as The Shining and The Exorcist become horribly distracting. Chapter 3 in the Insidious franchise is an improvement on the second film but it's nowhere near as polished as the original.
General release from Fri 5 Jun.