Review: Insidious Chapter 3

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: Several years before the Lambert family haunting, Elise (Lin Shaye) has turned her back on being a psychic after having a premonition of her death at the hands of a malevolent spirit. But, when teenage Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) inadvertently brings back a demonic presence after trying to contact her dead mother, Elise realizes she must use her abilities to try and save the girl’s soul before it’s too late.

REVIEW: INSIDIOUS is a film that really should have never gotten a sequel. Taken on its own, it was a solid, remarkably disciplined little chiller that – in hindsight – people tend to under-appreciate. While the fact that it’s become a franchise has diluted the original’s reputation, it was originally a very taut film that managed to be truly scary while still operating within the confines of a PG-13 rating.

But, like director/writer pair James Wan & Leigh Whannell’s SAW, INSIDIOUS has become a bit of a victim of its own success. No film that manages to recoup more than five times its budget will ever not get a sequel these days, thus they’ve cobbled together a whole mythology that likely will continue to be lucrative even if the movies aren’t especially inspired. CHAPTER 3 continues the series without the need to devote a big chunk of the budget to the paychecks of rising stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne. Taking place sometime around the mid-2000’s (keep an eye on the retro smartphones); the focus has been shifted to Lin Shaye’s heroic psychic Elise (who fans of the series will know met a grim end). Shaye’s really great in the part and that INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 works as well as it does for at least some of the running time is mostly due to Shaye’s performance and writer-director Leigh Whannell’s  obvious affection for both the character and Shaye herself.

When Shaye’s on-screen, no problem. As long as she’s the focus INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 works relatively well. The trouble only really begins once the focus shifts to the Brenner family. While Stefanie Scott’s Quinn is a sweet enough character (if totally clichéd), Dermot Mulroney has virtually nothing to work with as her concerned father. While Wilson and Byrne were able to make you care about the Lamberts, the Brenner’s aren’t anywhere near as lucky as they’re as generic a haunted family as you can get.

Notably, James Wan has handed over the reins of the franchise to Whannell, with him off directing mega-hits like THE CONJURING and FURIOUS 7 (although he has a cameo). Whannell’s no doubt a talented guy, but he’s stifled a bit by the need to eke scares out of a really tired premise. Disappointingly, the film resorts to the kind of cheap jump scares the first one some compellingly avoided. The typical teen showing up to watch this likely won’t care, but it makes the whole thing seem so clichéd and tired, which is the antithesis has to how the original went down.

Still, INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 does have its moments. As stated above, Shaye is great and the film perks up a lot once series favorites Specs (Whannell himself) and Tucker (Angus Sampson – wearing a great Dolph Lundgren MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE tee) show up. In the end, it’s a good enough time waster and better than the awful CONJURING spin-off ANNABELLE, but maybe it’s time to let this series go.


Insidious: Chapter 3



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.