and a silver sixpence in her shoe.
“Insidious Chapter 3” (2015) has most of the items a blushing horror bride needs for an eldritch wedding. It has “something old,” “something new,” “something borrowed,” and “something blue.” What it lacks is the “silver sixpence in her shoe.” Without this last, vital ingredient, the marriage of viewer and film does not have as much of a shot at good fortune and prosperity as it could have had. What the heck do I mean? Read on and find out!
“Insidious Chapter 3” – Basics
The first “wedding” in this film is between the “Insidious” series and a new director (“something new”). It is the directorial debut for Australian screenwriter, producer, and actor Leigh Whannell. Whannell also wrote the screenplay, as he did for the first two “Insidious” films and the first three “Saw” movies. He has been a frequent collaborator with James Wan, who produces instead of directs in this third installment of the “Insidious” franchise. Whannell also reprises the role of Specs, while Wan has a cameo as a theatre director. Returning cast members (“something old”) include Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier, Angus Sampson as Tucker, Steve Coulter as Carl, Tom Fitzpatrick as the Bride in Black, and Joseph Bishara as the Lipstick-Face Demon (he is also the film’s composer). Finally, “Insidious Chapter 3” marks the big-screen premiere for young actress Stefanie Scott (“something new”).
“Insidious Chapter 3” – Story Summary
Quinn Brenner (Scott) is a teenager whose mother, Lilith Brenner (Ele Keats), recently passed away. She, her father, Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney), and her brother Alex (Tate Berney) have attempted to soldier on bravely despite the loss. Nevertheless, Quinn desperately misses her mom and wishes she could ask her some questions that she never had the opportunity to ask while Mom was alive. When she experiences paranormal phenomena that make her suspect that her mother’s spirit is present, she tries to contact her on her own. When these efforts fail, she seeks the assistance of Elise Rainier (Shaye), a psychic who has decided to retire after the death of her husband. Elise is reluctant to help Quinn because the last time she entered the spirit world, she encountered a female demon, the Bride in Black (Fitzpatrick), who told her that she is going to kill her. Swayed by Quinn’s sweet and innocent demeanor, Elise tries to contact Quinn’s mother, but instead connects with a demon. She tells Quinn that she can’t help her after all. Quinn goes on trying to contact her mother on her own, which leads to the appearance in the physical world of The Man Who Can’t Breathe (Michael Reid MacKay – “something new”). This demon proceeds to torment Quinn physically, psychologically, and spiritually after causing her to be seriously injured. Eventually, Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) are called in to help, but it turns out that they actually know nothing about real ghosts. Having had a premonition about Quinn being in danger, Elise realizes that The Man Who Can’t Breathe wants to possess Quinn’s soul. She joins Specs and Tucker in a battle to rescue Quinn. Ultimately, however, Elise must journey alone into the Further to try to rescue her from the demon. This action requires her to face her fears about the Bride in Black’s death threat as well as her own grief about her husband’s death and the danger posed by The Man Who Can’t Breathe.
“Insidious Chapter 3” – Commentary
This prequel does a fairly good job at being just that — a prequel. It incorporates and explains the origins and motivations of the major characters and the back-story of the significant situations in the previous two films in the franchise. It is at its best in this task in the case of Elise. Shaye’s performance in this role represents the strongest acting in this film. It is good to see the tough side of Elise that Shaye delivers. I also have to admit that she made me tear up in the denouement to the film’s climactic scene (“something blue”), but that’s likely because I’m a sucker for family sentimentality.
Aside from Whannell and Sampson, the most of the rest of the cast turns in a rather average performance for a horror flick. It’s not that they did not act well; rather, the parts they were given are rather flat and stereotypical. One exception is the small but important role of Grace (Phyllis Applegate). This well-done turn incorporates the trope of the demented person who nevertheless is a spiritual seer. This is “something borrowed” from horror film history.
Finally, “Insidious Chapter 3” lacks its “silver sixpence.” It doesn’t really break any new ground compared to its two predecessors. The scares it provides are mostly jump scares. There are the same loud musical cues. And there is no attempt to extend, modify, or transcend the film’s original concept. As a result, this film will disappoint those new to the franchise, but will likely please its fans because it does a good job of tying up all the loose back-story ends of the first two “Insidious” offerings.
I gave this film 2.5 out of 5 stars on Rotten Tomatoes. If you have seen it, what did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my take? Let me know in the comments section below.