Horror movies are made to scare you. They're made to terrify the hell out of you. It's their job. After watching the first Insidious movie, I felt just that. I felt terror. The film latched itself to me, just like the demons do in these movies. Obviously, I was eager to see the sequel, and I did just that.... only to find that it was utter shit, achieving nothing and providing little scares. I was worried about Insidious: Chapter 3. In fact, I didn't really care that it was a thing. Until my screening yesterday, I still didn't really care for it, shrugging it off as another cash-grab. Little did I realise that this time around, the film is actually pretty damn good.
Insidious: Chapter 3 takes the story back to the beginning, set before the events of the first two films. We follow the story of a teenager named Quinn (Stefanie Scott). Convinced her dead mum is watching over her, she visits retired psychic Elise (Lin Shaye), who reluctantly agrees to help her. However, the problem with contacting one member of the dead is that you open up an opportunity for all of them to respond. And one unexpected visitor does just that, latching itself to Quinn in an attempt to bring her into its demonic world where it wishes to enslave her. This visitor's name? The Man Who Can't Breathe (Michael Reid MacKay), and he gives the Darth Maul looking mother fucker from the first film a run for his money.
The demon in the film is utterly horrifying, his looks alone being enough to provide quite a few nightmares. He feels familiar at first, bit his portrayal is quite something. For the first two acts, practically every one of his appearances is enough to raise your heart beat, but this film makes the same mistake that the first film did during its third act. It shows too much of its antagonist. He becomes old, providing little scares as we're so used to his on-screen presence, but for the first two acts, he's one hell of a character.
Unfortunately, The Man Who Can't Breathe isn't the only demonic presence in this movie, as an old enemy of Elise's makes an appearance or two. Or future enemy. I'm not sure. This appearance is, of course, the bride (Tom Fitzpatrick). The character feels incredibly out of place, and really just serves as yet another connection to the first two movies. There's even a scene between the bride and Elise towards the end of the movie that's the most ridiculously hilarious scene in any horror movie from the last few years. It's stupid as hell and had my entire theatre laughing.
Despite some bumps, Insidious: Chapter 3 is actually really really scary, successfully building up tension and a near-constant sense of dread. First time director Leigh Whannell, whose previous credits mostly include acting and writing, understands how to make a horror movie. He's no James Wan, but hey, he's made just as many good Insidious films as Wan has. Whannell knows what we want out of this movie, giving us absolutely no false jump scares, but instead providing some serious tension right from the get go. Not all of his scares work, but when they do, they managed to scare the living daylights out of me.
An aspect of the first two Insidious movies that I absolutely loved was the performances. Performances in horror movies are known to be so-so, but under the direction of James Wan, what could go wrong? When it came to Insidious: Chapter 3, again, I was worried, especially since the main actress is a former Disney Channel star, and we all know how that usually turns out. Usually. Surprisingly, she's great in the film, allowing us to buy into the terror and also adding a relatable side to the character. In fact, she puts the actor of her father to shame, out-acting him in every way.
And finally, the cinematography in this movie is also something that deserves recognition. Calling it great is an understatement. There are no bland, unoriginal shots to be found here. No, in this movie we're actually treated to something special, just adding to the overall impressiveness of the whole thing. Sure, there's a shot here and there that completely gives away the scares, resulting in a failed attempt at being scary, but the film looks good doing it, so that's something.
To sum up, Insidious: Chapter 3 appears to be more of the same, but it actually has a few tricks up its sleeve. It can go from being super creepy to super laughable, but there's just enough of the earlier one to make for an entertaining movie.