Director: Adam Robitel
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Spencer Locke, Caitlin Gerard, Bruce Davison
Runtime: Minutes 103
The Insidious franchise is a modern horror entity that wrote itself into a corner with the climax of its second chapter. It’s way of working around such an issue of such finality has since delivered on some decent enough spook house horror films, whereby the supporting case of ghost busting characters from the original film and its immediate sequel are now being placed front and centre as a means of producing more films under the banner through a selection of prequels.
That’s not a bad approach or hook at all for continuing a series at all, and the results have been oddly entertaining as a side effect. On the one hand because series scribe Leigh Whannell has a genuine respect for the canon of the series and is constantly trying to find new ways of working around the narrative junctions of the overarching plots, but also because it has allowed veteran horror actor and scream queen Lin Shaye to finally step into the limelight as the central character, Elise Rainier.
It’s incredibly strange to consider that she was never a widely recognised face in Hollywood beyond a few supporting roles, but Shaye has more than paid her dues and her strength in the leading role, and the ongoing exploration of her wonderfully realised character, are the reasons why this series keeps drawing people in. She’s once again incredibly good here, delivering every line with steely control and emotional confidence, and the chemistry she shares with Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell returning as duo Tucker and Specs.
The story this time feels a lot more personal for Elise, taking her back to the house she grew up in and facing her past in shocking and unexpected new ways. The series’ main underlying theme has always been that the supernatural demons and ghouls are the very real manifestations of facing one’s past trauma, and while the figure her is pretty twisted at face with a fetish of feeding off of the fear and anger of abused women – literally stealing their voices – it almost feels like it’s wearing the point down with dialogue that feels much weaker, and getting almost too close to the original films to a point that in the final stretch it’s almost a distraction.
The structure of these films still work, even if this is the most forgettable instalment so far. The craftsmanship of the scares, unique aesthetic and overblown final act still function and Lin Shaye delivers a tremendously powerful performance, but maybe the foundations need more of a shakeup if this is to continue. Everything that needed filling in has now been done, so maybe moving forward would be the best option.