Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

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Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Production Companies: Automatik Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions, Entertainment One, Sony Pictures International
Stars: Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Michael Reid MacKay
Genre: Horror

What It’s About: Long before the Lamberts are haunted, Elise reluctantly decides to help a teenage girl who is being targeted by a paranormal entity.

How I Watched It: In the theater with a friend.

Thoughts: Well, you guys…this movie is a PREQUEL.
NOT A PREQUEL!
I, for one, don’t think prequels are all that bad most of the time. Sure–they might not be the most consistent sort of sequel, but I think they open open a whole new realm of potential. Especially when it comes to this film franchise. Imagine all the possibilities of awesome movies staring Elise that they could give us! Let’s hope.

This film is set several years before the haunting of the Lambert family from the first two chapters. A teenage girl named Quinn (Scott) makes a special trip to visit the psychic she’s heard so much about from friends. When she arrives, Elise (Shaye) is more than reluctant to speak to her. This isn’t the strong and powerful Elise that we’re familiar with from the first two films–something’s different. She’s seems scared. She refuses to help her, but when she realizes that she’s traveled so far…she invites Quinn in for a quick chat. Quinn wants to contact her mother who recently passed away. When Elise attempts to contact her mother, she senses something else entirely…and she knows that Quinn may be in danger.

So…there you have it. It’s a similar setup to the first two films. Some sort of malevolent spirit has its eyes on Quinn, and it’s not willing to back down without a fight. I don’t want to continue with a synopsis and ruin this one for you. Can’t ruin the surprises!  😉

Let’s talk about performances.
~Stephanie Scott as Quinn Brenner: I wasn’t familiar with her work prior to this film–which is always nice. I love seeing some fresh blood up on the screen, because you don’t really have any expectations based on the rest of their work. I thought she did an all-around solid performance. She had quite a few impediments in this role. Without spoiling too much, she gets injured and is bedridden for a bulk of the film. It takes some chops to make some things interested when you’re confined to one spot. I look forward to seeing more from her.

~Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier: Lin Shaye kicks so much ass. It’s always a pleasure to see her doing new things–and let me tell you, she gets more of a starring role in this film than any of the others in the franchise. As I mentioned earlier, we get to see some different sides to Elise’s character–lots of great development there. I just…I…gah. She’s my favorite. I will watch every single prequel/sequel/reboot that they come up with if she’s a part of it.

~Dermot Mulroney as Sean Brenner: I didn’t realize that Dermot Mulroney was starring in this film. To be honest, I kind of chuckled to myself because I had just recently watched this SNL skit. But I digress. I was sort of concerned at first. I mean, he’s got the whole handsome thing going for him, and that’s great…but his first few scenes were sort of bad. I don’t know if he was just having trouble connecting to his “movie children” or what, but it seemed very scripted and dull. To his credit, he did improve as the film went along. As tensions and emotions are on the rise, he managed to save his performance. So “meh”.

If you wanna talk about an awesome performance–let’s talk about Leigh Whannell. Not only has he been the writer on all three films in this franchise, but he also stars as Specs.
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He takes on an EVEN BIGGER role in this film as the Director! I didn’t realize that this was the case until the credits were rolling at the end…but holy moly. Oh, and let’s point out that this is his directorial debut. Talk about a big introduction…and what a great introduction it was. Major kudos to him.

Lots of great special effects and really cool makeup designs for the ghosts in this one. Creeeeeeeepy.

My Rating: Huzzah!!!
I’m gonna go ahead and throw it out there–I think this one may be the scariest one in the franchise so far. I lost count of the number of times that I jumped in my seat. We’re not talking cheap jump scares either. So creepy and so well done. A fresh addition to the franchise, and I only hope that they keep these coming.

Where Can I Watch It?: This one’s still on the theater circuit. Catch it if you can.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

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Director: Peter Chelsom
Writers: Maria von Heland, Peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay, Francois Lelord
Production Companies: Egoli Tossell Film, Film Afrika Worldwide, Construction Film, Erfttal Film, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Screen Siren Pictures, Wild Bunch
Stars: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike
Genre: Drama/ Comedy/ Adventure

What It’s About: A psychiatrist travels the globe in search of what makes people happy.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: Hector (Pegg) lives a somewhat formulaic life. He goes to work, he comes home to his beautiful girlfriend Clara (Pike), rinse and repeat. Hector’s a psychiatrist and as he continues to grow more and more irritated with listening to his patients’ incessant ramblings about how unhappy they are, he takes it upon himself to discover exactly what “happiness” is. Hector packs up in a hurry and embarks on an adventure around the globe, hoping that he can find the key. All the while, he hopes that maybe he’ll discover what happiness means to him.

I love Simon Pegg. He was my main draw to this film. While I enjoy nerdy, overly-cheesy Pegg (as he’s often portrayed), I really do enjoy him taking on these more serious roles. Don’t get me wrong–this isn’t just a big ol’ sappy drama the entire time. Pegg’s comedy still shines through, and it’s heartwarmingly sincere. I really enjoy Hector’s transformation throughout the film–he goes through quite a roller coaster of emotions. Pegg does an outstanding job of staying on for the ride.

Rosamund Pike is so incredibly beautiful and so freakin’ talented. You go girl. This is definitely a slightly more light-hearted film than the last one I saw her starring in (Gone Girl–yikes). She’s not the main focus of the film, but her melodramatic reactions to Hector via Skype are fairly memorable. I sort of found myself not liking her for most of the film–but in the end, I couldn’t help but love her character. Kudos for the emotional rollercoaster, Ms. Pike.

While Pegg and Pike are really the only two characters that get much screen time, there is an entire ensemble of motley cast members. Hector meets lots of different people along his journey for happiness that include the likes of Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer. Really, the entire ensemble of cast members was fantastic–they give you a realistic world-travel feel as you’re watching the film, and they all come across quite genuinely. 

What this movie has successfully done is to peak my wanderlust–gee thanks. I think that speaks to its impact, though. This movie is brimming with adventure, and it makes you want to go have some of your own. I enjoy movies like that–sort of a silent call to action. Aside from feelings of wanderlust, this is just a great feel-good movie…at least by the end. There were some pretty bittersweet moments in there.

My Rating: Huzzah!

Great feel-good movie, with a wonderful ensemble cast. P.S. Simon Pegg, you can be my psychiatrist any day. 😉

Where Can I Watch It?: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or for rent elsewhere.