In 2010, James Wan released a film that would put mainstream horror back on the map. Something that even the jaded horror fans of the new age could get behind and enjoy. Insidious was atmospheric, excellently shot, and created a sense of fear and dread without the use of gratuitous violence or gore. In fact, the film was rated PG-13. That alone has become a trademark of the franchise in and of itself. The most common complaint of this original film was the final act. Things got a tad strange with the introduction of The Further and caught many moviegoers off guard. Luckily, Insidious: Chapter 2 expanded upon this alternate world to perfection and firmly cemented Insidious as a heavyweight in the horror genre. Insidious: Chapter 3 gives us a new family to learn and explore, and perhaps most importantly , a new director behind the camera. So how do things play out when the father of the franchise steps away? Well, it’s arguably better than ever.

This prequel story follows Quinn Brenner; a young girl that has recently lost her mother and feels as if she is trying to communicate from beyond the grave. Quinn seeks the assistance of everyone’s favorite medium – Elise Rainier – and they quickly discover that the spirit is not Quinns mother, but something far more sinister. While not entirely original, the plot gets us from point A to B with several frights along the way. Perhaps more interesting, is the amount of focus placed on Elise and her backstory. I feel as if a great deal of the opening act is setting us up for a 4th film that details her origins….and I am so down with that.

Early on it may feel as if Insidious has changed philosophies. The creepy atmosphere and tension is substituted for somewhat obvious set ups and jump scares. But let me assure you, as dirty as they may feel, they are well placed, well executed, and ridiculously powerful. I can’t recall the last time I was “caught” this many times in a film. You absolutely see the majority of them coming, and it doesn’t matter. Fear not though, once the initial onslaught calms down; that trademark Insidious atmosphere kicks in. Writer/Director Leigh Whannell doesn’t miss a beat, and he should absolutely be commended for that. Shots are well established, the audio is spectacular, and the story weaves in and out of the existing films while holding onto continuity. Simply put, mainstream horror does not get any better than this.

Performances are solid for the most part. You’re going to see many familiar faces here, so you should be accustomed to the actor’s portrayals of those roles. The new characters are more of a mixed bag though. Stefanie Scott does a wonderful job as Quinn, but Dermot Mulroney can feel a bit forced at times. Maybe it’s his dialogue, but something wasn’t clicking. Add in a couple of supporting “friend” roles, and a little brother that doesn’t seem to serve much purpose – and it quickly becomes clear that this is the Quinn and Elise show. That’s a good thing though, because they’re both great. The only thing that even comes close to taking spotlight off of them is the paranormal investigation team of Specks and Tucker. Any scene with those guys in it is pure gold.

That’s what makes Insidious: Chapter 3 so special. It’s able to accomplish far more than you might expect. One moment your muscles will be stiff from a good scare, then you’ll laugh at the silly banter between Specks and Tucker, then you’ll feel the pain of those in the film impacted by loss. These varying emotions keep you off balance throughout the film, making each of them hit harder when they arise again. It’s quite impressive.

Depending on what you value in horror, Insidious: Chapter 3 could be the strongest entry that the franchise has seen. Regardless of personal preference though, there is no denying that these spooky tales of The Further are here to stay.This is one that you won’t want to miss. I’ll absolutely be going back for seconds…..maybe thirds.

Inidious poster