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.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

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Director: James Wan
Writers: Leigh Whannell, James Wan
Production Companies: FilmDistrict, Stage 6 Films, Entertainment One, Blumhouse Productions, Automatik Entertainment, IM Global, Room 101
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
Genre: Horror

What It’s About: The Lambert family continues to be haunted, and again search for a resolution to the horrors they face daily.

How I Watched It: Alone in my basement room.  Night.  Lights out.  (Eeeeek!)

Thoughts: The movie starts with a scene from Josh’s (Wilson) childhood.  We get to meet a young Elise (Lindsay Seim).  Okay.  One complaint.  The only thing that really bothered me throughout this entire movie is this character–the young Elise.  The actress is great, but they dub her voice with Lin Shaye’s voice.  Whyyyyyyyyyy?  I understand some reasons for why they might have made that decision, but it was incredibly distracting during the entire first scene.  But kudos to Lindsay Seim for a nearly flawless lip syncing performance.

Anyway.  Once we get past that, everything is looking up.  This time around, we see a lady ghost wandering around the new Lambert house.  Renai (Byrne) is the one who tends to spot the ghost this time around, and she has trouble convincing everyone that she’s not crazy.  All the while, Josh is acting very strange after the events of the last film. Renai and Lorraine (Hershey) contact Elise’s former assistants Specs and Tucker (Whannell and Sampson) to help them figure out what’s going on.

I don’t wanna spoil any of the main plot points, so I’ll refrain from going further with the story.  Lots of surprises and twists, but not enough to take me out of it.  I really love this continuation of the story.  If you haven’t watched Insidious, please do so before watching this one.  I fell like this one may be difficult to understand without seeing the first film.

Sometime in the near future, I would love to watch these films back-to-back.  While watching Chapter 2, it didn’t feel disjunct from the first film at all.  The characters remained solid with great performances, and the story line seemed to flow really well from the first to second film.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I wouldn’t recommend watching this movie by yourself in a dark basement unless you like to torture yourself (like me, apparently).  I had to hang out with my roommates for a while after this one.