Insidious 3 Review: With eerie spirits and haunted houses, this film will scare the hell out of you

Mihir Fadnavis

Jun 28, 2015 18:07:34 IST

There’s a certain charm in the Insidious series. The first film was pretty much a rehash of Poltergeist, but it brought back an element that had been sorely missing in mainstream horror films: creepiness. While most modern horror movies depended on cheap shocks to render scares, James Wan showed audiences what they had been missing all these years.

The trick paid off because the original film went on to gross 100 times its budget, and made Wan a household name with sequels and The Conjuring.

We now have a third film, directed by Leigh Whannell, who has written all of Wan’s movies right from the original Saw. Normally one expects a third installment of a horror series to be a simple cash grab – just look at the threequels of Paranormal Activity or the Freddy and Jason series. It seems Wan’s gang is aware of how terrible cash grabs can be for both audiences and the critics, because Insidious 3 is surprisingly effective.

 Insidious 3 Review: With eerie spirits and haunted houses, this film will scare the hell out of you

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Insidious 3 is actually a misnomer because it’s a prequel in the series, which means it takes place a few years before the events of the first two movies.

This time Quinn, a little girl (Stefanie Scott) living with her single dad (Dermott Mulroney) and kid brother is haunted by an evil entity who wants to possess her body. Elise, the exorcist type character played by Lin Shaye is contacted by Quinn to help her out but is refused because she herself is tormented by an entity from the nether world.

The story pretty much ends there because you know what happens next – Elise finally agrees to help the girl, and the two crackpot ghostbusters (played by writer director Whannell and Angus Sampson) make their first intro.

The thing is Insidious 3 is indeed more of the same horror tropes – it’s yet another haunted house, tormented girl, exorcism movie, but what makes it enjoyable is yet again the creepy factor. Wan’s gang knows that the scares are most important for the film, and they deliver in a huge way.

This time, the long silences prior to the big jump scare have some meaning – they lead to something that is relevant to the story. The sheer eeriness and tension built up towards the jump scares makes you cringe in fear. so even if the actual jump scare is cheap the journey towards that moment is totally worth it.

There’s always a heightened sense of dread throughout the film, thanks to the incredible lighting by cinematographer Brian Pearson and Joseph Bishara’s spine tingling music. The film also maintains a good balance between offering fans of the series fun throwback moments towards the first two films, but is smart enough to deliver original scares on its own. It’s probably not as scary as the first film because by now you’re accustomed to the horror style of the series, but the spooky moments are serviceable even if they’re familiar.

For a first time director, Whannell is surprisingly adept at handling characters – having characters in a horror film whom you actually care about is an achievement.

The major niggle with the film though, is its schmaltz which is thankfully kept to a minimum. There’s also a really awkward scene towards the end where Elise teams up with the ghostbusters, it’s the only place where the film shows off Whannell’s lack of experience in direction. Speaking of which, the ghostbusters are a fun mismatched couple, reminiscent of the Lone Gunmen from The X Files - they could seriously use a horror comedy spinoff of their own.

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Updated Date: Jun 28, 2015 18:09:57 IST