AND AWAY WE GO, INTO THE FURTHER
Main Cast: Lin Shay, Stefanie Scott
Director: Leigh Whannell
Three years before Dalton Lambert gets stuck in the astral plain, forcing his father Josh to travel into “the further” to rescue him from the Lipstick Faced Demon, high schooler Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott, No Strings Attached) takes a bus some distance from her home to visit ex-medium Elise Rainier.
Quinn’s mother has died recently and the teen has been trying to contact her. She hopes Elise can help. But when Elise–who insists she doesn’t do that kind of work anymore–attempts to reach Quinn’s mother, what she discovers is something else trying to attach itself to Quinn instead.
Don’t try to contact your mother anymore, she tells Quinn. Because when you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you.
Quinn takes this warning home with her, then immediately ignores it and calls out to her mother again the first time she hears a strange noise in her bedroom. And then, in one of the most shocking scenes in the Insidious franchise’s history, Quinn is hit by a car after leaving an acting school audition.
Now confined to her bed with two broken legs, Quinn is reliant on her father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney, do I really need to tell you who Dermot Mulroney is???). But Sean is struggling just to keep himself and his two kids (Quinn has a younger brother, Alex) afloat after the death of his wife and when the evil that’s haunting Quinn makes itself unavoidable, Sean is forced to track down Elise and beg for her help.
Insidious Chapter 3 was an unexpected surprise in this horror franchise created by horror icons (I don’t care what you think about their catalog, they’ve created three of the most memorable and copied horror franchises of the last 15 years) James Wan and Leigh Whannell. With Wan busy directing Furious 7 when this movie was made, Whannell has stepped in to write AND direct–his debut behind the camera, in fact.
Does he live up to Wan’s approach? Did anyone expect him to? Wan has a horror filmmaker’s eye, while Whannell is more a super fan of the genre who has parlayed that love into a relatively successful career. But a visionary director he is not.
He’s got his moments, though, and there are times in this movie where he nearly blows the previous two movies away. Quinn’s accident is one, and the creation and execution of The Man Who Can’t Breathe is far and away more disturbing and difficult to watch than The Bride in Black from the previous movie. Hell, even The Lipstick Faced Demon from the original Insidious. He didn’t do much in that movie, but The Man Who Can’t Breathe is a very formidable ghost. And super disgusting.
For me, it was this movie where the franchise really found its footing. The previous installments had told one long story, and fleshed it out with interesting characters and interesting ghosts. While I felt the Brenners in this movie were somewhat flat and uninspired, Whannell’s true passion became obvious with this movie: he’s all about the ghosts.
When Elise travels into the further in search of, first The Man Who Can’t Breathe and later (spoilers) Quinn, we meet a number of other locals who are trapped in this part of the afterlife, and it’s clear that, if given the opportunity, Whannell could make an entire movie based on each one.
I got the same feeling watching the first two movies and seeing the different ghosts Josh encountered when he was in the further. Whannell is excellent at populating his ghost movie with some of the most memorable, unique, and creepiest damn ghosts you’ve ever seen.
If only he was as adept at great climaxes. That’s where, in my opinion, this movie REALLY falls flat.
I mean, the climax he wrote is full of all the things it should be full of for this genre, but Whannell has never written his movies to fit what was common in the genre. They went to great lengths in the first film to address and avoid the tropes so common already, but by the third one it was like any amount of originality or stepping away from the norm was just lost and the easiest, most predictable ending was just tacked on to keep the production on schedule.
In the end, Insidious Chapter 3 is really the origin story of the Specs/Tucker/Elise team we meet in the first movie. It’s the origin story I don’t think anyone was asking for, but I’ll be honest, I could watch Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) go back and forth all day, so I’m not complaining. I saw the title INSIDIOUS, I saw Specs and Tucker were back, and the scene in the trailer where Quinn is kicking her bed post until her casts break and fall off and that was all I needed to be all in with this movie.
And I don’t regret that decision. I think if I had seen this one but neither of the other two movies, I would have loved this one more than I did just because it is so damn creepy, but unfortunately that foreknowledge does do a little bit to dampen my enjoyment here based entirely on comparisons between the other movies. Maybe that’s unfair, but it is what it is. And either way, Insidious Chapter 3 is an excellent addition to the franchise and, with this jump back in time, gives Whannell the opportunity to go in any direction he wants with future installments, because we’re not bound to the conditions established at the end of Chapter 2.
As far as I’m concerned, give me another Insidious movie every year just like the Saw franchise did for its first 7 years. Granted, I’d like these movies to be of a higher quality just because they’re ghost stories and I LOVE ghost stories and hold them in higher regard, but mostly, at the end of the day, I just want more Insidious movies.
C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways anthologies. His novels are Revelations, and the Angel Hill stories, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, The Ghosts of Mertland and The Flip. He is writing another Angel Hill novel called Return to Angel Hill with co-author David Bain.