By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The mythology that’s created for the Insidious movies is one that’s rich with evil intent. With departed souls looking for a second chance at life, just what writer Leigh Whannell has crafted for Insidious 3 may well have Aleister Crowley giving his seal of approval. With one witchy woman and a spawn of Darth Maul populating the Further, just how this other side works is much more effective than anything the Poltergeist remake can conjecture.
Instead of a gothic realm populated by corpses, this mirror realm is simply devoid of light and life. In the afterlife according to Whannell, the freaks of purgatory exist because of their own devices. Whether by family neglect or desire by an entity to take a soul for its own, just what’s next for this series of movies requires figuring out who is the star of the show: is it Lin Shaye who is doing her best to give life to an otherwise droll plot or someone else?
Insidious 3 puts former Disney starlet Stefanie Scott on the spotlight as Quinn Brenner, a troubled teen not able to accept closure when her mom died; it’s put a rift between herself and her family. While this actress’ presence almost mirrors that of Debby Ryan (Disney’s Jessie) in terms of look, she has her own charm that gets the attention of Hector (Ashton Moio). The expectation that he may come save the day never even materializes when Whannell, as a director, makes this boy’s feelings about her crystal clear. When the haunting is taking place in an apartment building, the only neighbours that seem affected is with an elderly couple. Hector’s importance is shoved aside to show that subplot was never important. Had this film shown just who else can get affected, perhaps it could have broken past a trope of isolating the victim away from the world. While authors Carl and Diana Royer say the best movies use this theme in their book, The Spectacle of Isolation in Horror Films, a point has to be made — not every product has to follow the mold. Sometimes, a look at how a community is affected needs to be explored too. While there’s plenty of character development for Elise Rainier (Shaye) and Quinn (Scott), none of the other characters are all that fleshed out.
At least for dead spirits, just where they go is simple: the good souls will enter the light and the bad people (including those who committed suicide) are lost in the dark. Just like in the second film, time is spent is this other realm to show what lurks around. That’s when this film gets a touch schizophrenic. It bounces between two tales: in how Rainier gains her courage and in what Quinn is facing as her darkest desire. Just what kind of ghost that’s been attracted to her is that of one wanting to feed off of her.
Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker’s (Angus Sampson) return is inevitable. They provide the comedy relief and this time, not a lot is offered in a gently creepy film. There’s no answers offered for audiences jumping into this series from this movie. Some may ask who this Bride in Black is and the only way to find answers is to watch the second film. To see how Elise teams up with the boys is hardly interesting, but it helps round out how their relationship began. If more films are to come, a leap of faith is required to understand how these bumbling paranormal investigators work when their leader is now a spirit.
If there is a fourth film, will the Scooby Doo gang include a Wilma Dinkley type character? Not many viewers will catch on that Hayley Kiyoko (who played Dinkley in the live action movies) had a small part in this film. Just which greats from horror films of long ago will make cameos is not important to this series anymore. Unless Jamie Lee Curtis makes an appearance, the continuation of this universe seems uncertain.
3 Stars out of 5