Let me start this review off by being pedantic. Insidious: Chapter Three is not chapter three. It should actually be known as Insidious: The One Before The First One. Yes, it’s a prequel. A milking of the franchise because the studio clearly hasn’t made enough money yet. Anyway let’s not nit-pick much more, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Insidious: Chapter Three
As mentioned, this is a prequel to the other films. Elise, the clairvoyant from both other films, is in a bad place. She has lost her partner and has sworn off talking to the spirits. That is, at least, until a young girl comes along, begging to make contact with her deceased mother. It took Elise approximately four screen minutes to change her mind, have a crack at contacting the dead mother and spooking herself out - sending the young girl (Quinn) away on her own. Or rather, with a spirit in tow. That’s your plot and, to be honest, it’s more than I expected.
James Wan directed the first two chapters of this film franchise and did an okay job. They weren’t perfect films; more of a paint-by-numbers supernatural horror. This chapter has been directed by Leigh Whannell and he does a good enough job of steering the vehicle in the right direction, the vehicle which he also penned (he also wrote the first two chapters, some of the SAW films, and a cracking little horror called Dead Silence). For those who enjoyed Dead Silence, by the way, pay close attention in Insidious: Chapter 3. There’s a good chance you will recognise one of the spirits in The Further. However, despite his best efforts, it fails to hit the mark. The acting is bad, especially by Quinn’s father who is played by Dermot Mulroney, and this alone is enough to pull you from the experience. A shame on part of Dermot as he’s usually good value for money but, I don’t know, it was like he just couldn’t be bothered. To him, this was just a pay-check and that is painfully obvious.
Is this film frightening at least? Well no. It has some neat ideas hidden within The Further - images of people who have killed themselves - and even the main protagonist is pretty damned creepy but none of it seems to come together to work. The jumps are typical of this kind of horror with an obvious build-up and heavy use of music at the point where you’re meant to jump. You aren’t jumping because the film is scary, you’re jumping because it’s really quiet and suddenly the speakers blast out a loud noise which scares the shit out of you. We, the audience, are fooled into thinking we’re scared by the visions we’re seeing - but we’re not. We’re ‘scared’ because a loud noise took us by surprise and, I don’t know about you, I am fed up with this type of horror but it’s all Hollywood seems to be capable of. Mainstream Hollywood, at least.
And then there is the ‘humour’. It’s embarrassing really but - yes - there is an attempt at humour in this film but it is so ‘off’ to the rest of the film that it doesn’t work in the slightest. It simply turns a bad film into a complete cheese-fest. Want an example? Elise - navigating the dark part of The Further - starts to fight with another spirit. She pushes her away and then does a hand gesture, beckoning the spirit to come and have a go at her. She utters the ‘classic’ line, “Come on then, bitch.” It is painfully obvious Lin Shaye (the actress playing Elise) is even uncomfortable with this, yet she still does it to a ripple of laughter around the cinema and muttered ‘what the fucks’ from people such as myself.
It’s not all bad though, despite how it may seem, there is some nice visual imagery in there with some of the spirits and there were many jumps for those who are easily fooled into jumping with cheap cinema tricks. I - a hardened horror fan - jumped about three times in total. Also - a bit of fun - I have watch which measures my heart rate. It stayed around 50 bpm but once did spike to 92 bpm… If you enjoyed the previous two Insidious films, you may find some enjoyment here but go in with lowered expectations and prey they do not make a fourth film. If you enjoy your horror films, there is little here other than mis-timed ‘comedic moments’ , lacklustre scares, poor acting and a plot you have seen a million times before in films much better than this.
Dermot’s face doesn’t really change from this expression. Here is a guy who can
not be bothered.