Perhaps it was the troupe of 30+ thirteen-year-olds in the theatre that leads me to believe this film was catered to a deeply immature and malleable audience. But even more so was the fact that nothing writer/director Leigh Whannel did in his third go around with the Insidious franchise is anything remotely more enticing than his previous bleakly original outings. By that I mean every film in the Insidious family from Chapter 1 to Chapter 3 is entirely incapable of engaging the audience in anything other than above the line makeup and cheap laughs. The film takes place some time before the first two, focusing on spiritual medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) as she comes out of retirement and helps a young girl (Stefanie Scott) return to the world of the living through exorcism. If you’ve seen any horror film that deals with the world of the demonic versus reality, you know how this story goes.
Lin Shaye is probably the brightest spot in the film. She bypasses the weak writing and loosely structured plot with acting that overshadows a majority of the cast. Dermot Mulroney, who plays the possessed girl’s father, is somewhat of a disappointment. Of course he’s no Day-Lewis, but I tend to find that otherwise talented actors seem to struggle in the horror genre when they’re told to play serious in films that shouldn’t be taken seriously. So with a script that feels weak page after page and acting that struggles almost around the horn, it is hard to enjoy what little is left of the picture. Although I found myself jumping and hiding behind my popcorn more than I’d like to admit, horror films shouldn’t have a sole goal of making people scared, just as comedies shouldn’t solely try to make people laugh. Movies are about stories and how they are told visually. Nothing pains me more than a film that denies plot and shoots for shock and awe.
If I want to pay for cheap thrills I’ll just get my flash pass at Six Flags and get my money’s worth, not waste my time in a theatre where my experience should be far more intellectual than physical. The key here is that Insidious: Chapter 3 copped out completely. If the arrival of The Babadook last year proved anything, it is that through tone and character relationships, you can make any horror flick a legitimate contribution to the filmography of the movie industry. Instead of sitting down at a typewriter and saying
, “fuck it” every time you hit a roadblock, a writer should make an effort to give an audience something worth their time. There are horrors that succeed in pleasing both audiences and critics just as there are comedies and Sci-Fi’s that do the same. Committing yourself to a genre shouldn’t mean committing yourself to laziness. Ultimately what Whannel gave us was run-of-the-mill jump scare horror. Don’t expect to see anything you haven’t seen a hundred times and don’t plan on feeling wise with your money if you go see this film.