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  Insidious Chapter 3 The Nightmare BeyondBuy this film here.
Year: 2015
Director: Leigh Whannell
Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, Tate Berney, Michael Reid MacKay, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko, Corbett Tuck, Tom Fitzpatrick, Tom Gallop, Jeris Poindexter, Ele Keats, Phyllis Applegate
Genre: Horror
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) has heard about Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and thinks she may be able to help. She cold calls the middle-aged psychic but as she stands on the porch Elise doesn’t give her a warm reception, she’s not unfriendly exactly, but she does appear wary as she tells the girl she is not involved with mediumship any more, indeed she has consciously sworn off any involvement with the other side. Yet she senses some inner turmoil in Quinn, so she relents and allows her into her living room, reasoning a light consultation would not hurt; she is told that Quinn lost her mother to cancer recently and would like reassurance that she is looking over her benevolently from the afterlife. However, as Elise gently probes the spirit world, she senses something nasty…

Not everyone could keep track of all the supernatural horrors by the time Insidious Chapter 3 was released, as there was not only this franchise to make you jolt in your seat, but a proliferation of Conjuring, Sinister, Paranormal Activity and so forth could easily mix up in the viewer’s mind when they basically followed a similar template. Insidious was the one with the heavy reliance on psychics guiding the protagonists through a dark realm of demons and ghosts, and the first instalment had been pretty decent considering how hackneyed it could have been (and perhaps was), though Chapter 2, while a hit, was something of an unimaginative disappointment. This third effort was a little more like a return to form.

It remained something we had seen far too many times before, but the fact was Hollywood knew a cash cow when it saw one and was going to churn out these movies until there was really nothing else to be profited from them, whereupon a new sleeper success would inform the box office trends and we would have another rash of them, and the cycle moved ever onwards. Yet if you could probably write the script for these yourself by this point, writer, director and star Leigh Whannell was at least concentrating a shade more on character, establishing Quinn and her world before turning it upside down with his hauntings, and Scott proved herself an engaging enough presence until the plot sidelined her.

Dermot Mulroney played her harassed father, in contrast a thoroughly two-dimensional role that was merely present to supply an authority figure, but it was Quinn and Elise the film was actually interested in, as indicated by the low key opening sequence. In many ways, although the jump scares were wearisomely deployed every five minutes, they were not particularly necessary, and a trope that these styles were relying on as if having doubts about the courage of their convictions to whip up a spooky atmosphere. The build-up and release pattern could very easily be tweaked into something more intriguing and attention-sustaining, but by this stage was a distraction to telling the story when they were so well-anticipated.

Especially when there were potentially interesting aspects given short shrift when Insidious was more intent on delivering the weirdness – the chief antagonist was a hospital patient in an oxygen mask who popped up at inopportune times – than it was exploring, say, a fear of disability that is hinted at when Quinn spends most of the movie in a wheelchair, or in bed resting her broken legs. Shaye was evidently enjoying her late career renaissance as the medium Elise and was appropriately grave in her countenance, but not so much that she was forbidding and offputting, and Whannell and Angus Sampson offered a lighter-hearted reading of the ghost hunters who offered much needed amusement to what was taking itself far too seriously. Touches like that lifted what was very familiar and predictable, even for a prequel, and as director, Whannell obviously knew his way around the material and could throw it up on the screen with the requisite integrity. Better than it had a right to be, then. Music by Joseph Bishara (heavy on the sudden blares).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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