Actor and writer Leigh Whannell finally steps behind the camera for Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) a prequel to the immensely popular franchise about astro-projection, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. Whannel has written all three films and takes over directing from frequent collaborator James Wan (who is only producing this film). The two started the Saw franchise together before moving onto Dead Silence (2007) and even Death Sentence (2007), in which Whannell has a small part. Now Whannell has decided to tell the story of how it all began.
Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) is about to graduate high school and her dream is to get into the perfect theater school. Unfortunately, she’s still not over the death of her mother from a year previously and after she is unsuccessful with talking to the spirit of her mother she seeks out help from psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who has become a recluse following the death of her own husband and the fear of a vengeful spirit that wants to kill should she ever use her gift to venture out into the spirit world. Elise warns Quinn that contacting the spirit world is dangerous because when you speak to one of the dead they all can hear you. When Quinn is hit by a car and almost dies. Instead she becomes bed ridden due her broken legs and is left at the mercy of her father (played by Dermot Mulroney). The only problem is that upon almost dying she gets a glimpse of The Further (the realm between the Light and the Darkness) and an angry spirit The Man Who Can’t Breathe (an amazing Michael Reid MacKay) latches onto her and refuses to let her go. Now Elise must conquer her fears in order to save Quinn from a fate worse than death.
For fans of the franchise this is a great way to give Elise (and Shaye) her due as she was a small character in the previous films. This is a film about a woman trying to pick up the pieces of a broken life and find a way to overcome her fears to order to battle great evil. Returning from the previous films is also Specs and Tucker (Whannell and Angus Sampson, respectfully) as Elise’s “sidekicks” and even her old friend Carl (Steve Coulter), from Chapter 2. There are also many links to the previous two films (which should make fans really happy) but none of these take away from the enjoyment of this film for those that may not have seen the first two films. This film stands on its own two feet in the same way as Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) did for that franchise.
Now, this film may have lost some of its surprises due to it being the third film in the series but this does not diminish the fact that this is a strong film because all the performances are spot on (and it’s great to see Shaye given the opportunity to finally shine) and Whannell has learned a lot from Wan as the style between the films is consistent. Fans should not be disappointed as this is a great way to see where the franchise goes from here.