It ‘s very important to note that the rating for “Insidious: Chapter 3” is PG-13, which means that director/writer Leigh Whannell has structured his movie to be scary without having to rely on gore. Audiences have become so desensitized to blood and guts that horror movies now have to be smarter.
And that makes them better.
In this episode, we have a brand-new family under attack, and a brand-new haunted house – actually, in this case, an old haunted apartment. Quinn’s mom died recently, and the girl’s been reaching out to her, trying to contact her spirit.
Not realizing, of course, that once you open that door, almost anyone – anything – can come through.
Which means a call has to go out to Elise, the psychic who will end up starring in the next two – er, last two – movies. And means she’ll eventually have to take a trip into the darkness to confront the entities that are bedeviling this poor family.
This by no means is a sequel of the previous two films and serves as a prequel to why the events have started in the first place.
A lesser film would have concentrated entirely on this battle between the living and dead. Whannell balances the terror with complicated characters.
Instead of just being fodder for fear, Dermot Mulroney’s role as the father of the young girl has depth. He’s trying to deal with the frustration of whatever is terrifying his daughter while still facing his own pain over the loss of his wife. Mulroney never plays his character as some ghost-busting champion but as a father who wants to help but is at a complete loss of how to deal with factors far beyond his control. It’s a great case of remembering not just to react to events but to act when dealing with those events.
Shaye is equally strong as the psychic. Instead of being a confident force in the battle, Rainier has to deal with her own doubts and mortality before she can help others.
At the same time, younger brother Alex has found a pair of self-styled ghostbusters through their YouTube channel who might be of assistance: Specs (Whannell himself) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), the bumbling and bantering duo who provided much-needed comic relief in the first two films.
Watching Elise summon her inner strength to fight enemies on all sides in various dimensions—some of which exist in long, carpeted apartment hallways decorated in “Shining” chic—is the film’s real thrill. And if/when he makes “Insidious: Chapter 4,” Whannell would be wise to let her show what she can do once more. Petite and feisty, she’s the most capable person in the room—alive or dead—and easily the most fascinating.
Insidious: Chapter 3 is in theaters now!