Thursday, June 04, 2015




The new chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell. This chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity. (C) Focus

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements)
Genre: HorrorDirected By: Leigh WhannellWritten By: Leigh WhannellIn Theaters: Jun 5, 2015 Wide
Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.
Focus Features - Official Site

Where I'd rather be than watching this movie while I was watching this movie... ©Sony Pictures

Not a sequel but a prequel. How many prequels do you know that turned out to be good?

Okay, so this is the third in the Insidious series and instead of being a sequel it's a prequel. A prequel whose purpose is to introduce us to the character of Elise Rainier the paranormal investigator who appeared in both earlier Insidious movies. Elise Rainier if you remember helped the Lambert family and their paranormal problems in the first movies and then died at the end of it, then in the second installment she appeared to help the Lambert family again but this time from the astral plain she refers to as the Further. If you still can't remember she's the little old lady in the movies. There are no other little ladies in the Insidious series. Unless you're talking about the ghosts.

Anyway, this third Insidious is again written and produced by the same team that did the first two but this time directed by the writer of all three movies Leigh Whannell. The first two being directed by a name now pretty recognizable for the genre and also for the last Fast and Furious movie James Wan. Also this is Leigh Whannell's directorial debut.

So what's this one about? Well, like I said up there it's a prequel intended to tell the story of Elise Rainier played by Lin Shaye. (HERE'S WHERE I START WITH THE SPOILERS. DON'T BLAME ME FOR RUINING IT FOR YOU.) So the movie kicks off with Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) walking all the way from across town looking for Elise. Her reason? Her mother has just passed on and she wants to talk to her. She's been feeling like there's a presence around her and every now and again her stuff gets moved around. She thinks it's her mother trying to make contact with her but she can't be sure. She's hoping Elise will help her. At first, Elise tells her no that she doesn't do things like this anymore but after finding out that she's traveled from across town she invites her in for a chat and after hearing her sad story she decides to help. But as she tries to make contact with Lily Quinn's mother, Elise makes contact with another spirit. The spirit of a woman that threatens to kill her. If you've seen the earlier movies you know who this is.

Everyone's had this moment in their life where they see someone waving and think it's at you. Usually though it's an actual person. ©Sony Pictures

The visit from crazy ghost lady scares her enough that she tells Quinn that she can't do it. When she shows Quinn to the door she tells her not to try to talk to her mother, that if she keeps it up what she'll do instead is attract another spirit and that spirit may not be a benign one. But of course being a teenager she takes advice like a colander holds water. If you don't know what a colander is, go ask your mother or wife. If they don't know go look it up on Google, I'll wait. So like I said instead of going home and letting her mother rest in peace she keeps talking to her and assumes every bump that goes in the night and every thing that moves is her mother trying to say hello. When she hears faint voices in the heating vent above her head she stands on her side table to peer in and say hi.

The next day we're introduced to the rest of the family, Dad played by Dermot Mulroney who looks like he's either a mechanic or janitor or something and brother Alex (Tate Berney) who is like all little brothers are just annoying and someone who ruins your day. It's also the day that Quinn has an audition in New York that will decide whether she goes to the college she wants or not. While waiting for her turn backstage she spots a shadow that appears to be of a frail man waving at her but when she looks for the source of the shadow she can't find one. When her turn does come up, she forgets her lines. Later that night she's hanging out with her friend Maggie (Hayley Kiyoko) and venting and complaining about her family and how her life is ruined because she can't go to the only college she's ever wanted to go to. Later, while walking home she stops in the middle of the road when she spots the frail man again waving at her. The old man looks diseased and is wearing an oxygen mask you see patients in hospitals use. But as she's trying to make out who this man that's waving to her is she gets slammed by a car.

She spends a lot of time in bed. Makes it easy for the bad spirits to find her. Or maybe the movie is trying to put the fear of staying in bed in you. ©Sony Pictures

At the hospital the emergency team is doing whatever they can to revive her as she appears to be dead. And it appears to be just that when we see Quinn appear in the astral plane alone. But just as as soon as we think that a horrifying face appears in front of her scaring her back to life. Meanwhile, a few days after Quinn's visit with Elise Elise has a nightmare that shocks her awake and has her rushing to make note of something in her notebook. In the book she's written Quinn's name.

Three weeks later Quinn is back home with both legs in plaster casts. Later that evening while sitting in bed and bored of reading she decides to chat up the boy next door. She knocks on the wall and gets a response. She then texts him but soon find out that he's away at his grandmother's. This scares Quinn enough to hide under the covers. Just as she's about to doze of the little bell her father gives her to call on him if she needs help rings. This wakes her up. Her dad too apparently as he walks in to check up on her.

The next night as she's on a video call on her laptop with Maggie Maggie suddenly asks her if the person next to her is Alex but there's no one next to her. Just as she's about to ask Maggie what she's talking about her laptop stalls and the lights flicker. By her window and behind the curtain the figure of the frail man is seen. She cowers under her blanket as the figure approaches her but just as it does it drops out of sight. Silly teenager that she is she tries to peek under her bed to see where it's gone but just as she does so she gets picked up and tossed to the floor. Now down on the floor she cowers while the figure walks around her room closing the curtain, the door and her laptop. Never seen a ghost do that before in the movies. Once done with all that the figure begins to choke her and as she screams her dad slams the door open. He heard the loud noises coming from her room.

So who thinks having lit Christmas lights wrapped around your headboard is a good idea for sleep? ©Sony Pictures

Later after the visit by the paramedics to check on Quinn's condition, Sean goes up to the floor above with the building supervisor to find out what was going on above Quinn's room that caused not only the loud noises but also caused cracks in the ceiling of her room. The supervisor tells him no one lives there, that it's been vacant for a while but as they walk around the place and eventually get to the room above Quinn's room the spot black stains on the floor in the shape of a man's footsteps. The black stains are still wet and tacky.

That same evening as Quinn sleeps on the living room sofa and hides under the blankets she suddenly wakes and finds herself in her wheelchair in the hallway. She panics and wheels herself towards the elevator to get back home but once there the call button doesn't work and behind her is the frail man. He wheels her back down the hallway and towards apartment 514 and enters. Inside Quinn is tossed to the floor and as she panics she bangs on the floor calling for her father. Minutes later her father crashes through the door and finds her. She's literally in the upstairs apartment in the room above hers. Her father frantically searches for her assailant and spots the same black stains on the floor but this time it leads to a broken window. Looking out it he spots what appears to be the body of a man who has just jumped out of the window. As Quinn tries to lean over to take a look something grabs her and tries to pull her down but her father manages to grab on to her.

The next day Sean visits Elise asking for her help. Elise refuses and tells him about her past and how she's gone too many times to that dark place where evil spirits seem to gather and that the last time she went back she brought something back with. A spirit of a woman who has sworn to kill her. Sean begs her to at least come and visit Quinn. Elise relents and does. During her visit Elise tells Quinn about what she knows, what she's sensed about the thing that's haunting Quinn. And she attempts to get rid of it by going to the astral plain but fails when the female spirit again appears and tries to strangle her.

Now the next time you get woken up like this imagine the hand being Mr. Creepy's over there. ©Sony Pictures

Out of options Sean looks at an option brought to him by Alex. Alex suggests to call it a couple of internet personalities who claim to be ghost hunters. They come in and set-up their equipment and one of it is a miniature camera placed on Quinn's forehead so they can see what Quinn sees. Later that evening as they wait the monitor begins to show Quinn moving, getting up off her bed and walking towards the hallway. As they head to her room to see if it is her they spot no one. In her room they find it empty. They check the monitor and try to deduce it's location and Quinn from it. It seems to be coming from her closet but as Sean checks he finds only the camera. Meanwhile Quinn appears out of nowhere and begins to attack everyone there and when everyone's on the floor in pain she begins berating her father for being a failure as a father and a husband and that now it's his turns to suffer as Quinn grabs a box cutter and tries to slit her own throat. The men manage to grab her before she does and wrestles her down on her bed and tie her up with a cord.

Then out of nowhere Elise shows up and takes command of the situation. She instructs the paranormal pair to set-up their equipment and to write down whatever she says as she goes into a trance state and heads into the astral plane which she tells them she calls The Further. Once in The Further Elise finds herself back in the same hallway that she found herself in when she visited Quinn. This time she means business. She makes her way to the frail man's apartment and finds him sitting on the bed but as she addresses him and approaches him she instead finds her husband who committed suicide due to depression. Sitting next to him she hears him say how he's waited for her and how he wants her to join him. Knowing that her husband would never make such a request of her she uses the blade he's given her to kill herself with she instead slashes his face with it. This causes him to run towards a dark area of the room where Elise spots the frail man.

The evil spirit in this movie goes to a theatre in New York, stands in the middle of the road, closes curtains, doors and laptops and frightens people in the day. I guess there is a little originality in this movie... ©Sony Pictures

The fight begins. Elise spots Quinn or the spirit half that the spirit now possesses and grabs her and runs. She takes her back down to her apartment but once there they find that Quinn's spirit seems reluctant to return to her body. That she's seemed to have given up. So Elise calls on Quinn's dead mother's spirit to help her out and her spirit guides Elise to Quinn's diary where apparently she's hidden a letter for Quinn to find when she graduates. Then while Elise, Sean and the two paranormal investigators try to hold on to Quinn and ask her to stay, in the astral plain the frail man is holding on to Quinn's spirit. Just then Quinn's mother's spirit shows up and touches Quinn on the arm. The gesture apparently awakens Quinn and gives her strength. She grabs the frail man's oxygen mask and rips it off. This causes him to choke and then spew dust out of his mouth. He dissolves into nothing. Quinn awakens in the real world. Elise tells her that her mother is there.

Later we see Elise and the two paranormal investigators at their van as they pack up their gear. She convinces them that they should team up and work together.

The end.

Oh here's another couple of things standard for this series. A lamp for use in the astral plain, everything in the astral plain is tinted shades of blue and green and there's smoke billowing at your feet. Sort of like an underwater hell without the water. ©Sony Pictures

So is this as good as the other movies in the Insidious series?

Well, honestly speaking I can't remember much about the previous two. I had to actually read up on them just to remember them. Horror movies seem so similar these days that they tend to blend into one another in my head when I try to recollect them. After reading up on them a vague recollection of my thoughts and opinions of them came back. In short, whatever I remember of the earlier movies is a lot better than this one. So again, prequels suck. Why?

First a little caveat of sorts. I've had a pretty long day, it was raining pretty heavily which resulted in traffic driving as fast as molasses down a hill, so in short I was tired and didn't have anything to eat since lunch. Also I had nothing else to go by than the one trailer I saw for this movie. Also, like I said earlier, I couldn't remember the other Insidious movies.

If you're one of the special people then all you need to get to the astral plain is to hold hands and close your eyes and concentrate. Cheaper than a bus fare. Of course you don't want to hold hands with people on the bus. ©Sony Pictures

So the first thing that I felt about this movie was that the story felt uneven. This is supposed to be, in part, about Elise but with all that was told about her I still felt like we didn't learn anything let alone enough to give a hoot about her or to be invested in anyway about her character. The same goes for every other character in the movie. There's just nothing there in their personal characters to latch on to to heighten the fear. Then there's the character of the frail man or as I remember the characters in the movie call the breathless man. Here's the main evil character, the reason for everything that happens to Quinn yet we know nothing about him. He's a frail diseased man in a hospital gown, wears an oxygen mask and used to live in the upstairs apartment and apparently died there. And you also find out he's been a bit of a douche as a neighbor and has driven at least one person to suicide. Also that he likes to collect innocent souls and keep them with him in the spirit world version of his old apartment. But why? Who the hell is he. A little back story to him would make him a lot more interesting and maybe give us the reason as to why he's such an evil douchebag spirit. There's a character of an old woman who's a little senile but can apparently sense the breathless man but instead of her telling us what she knows about him all she does is tell Quinn she knows he's there and hanging around her room. But as it is we're not told any of it. He's just a spirit that's dressed like a halloween zombie that likes to harm young girls. That's it. I found that to be very unsatisfying. I do believe they Leigh Whannel did a better job with the previous films. Also that the story is so predictable and the ending is so hackneyed that it's just anticlimactic for me.

Also there were other characters in this movie that have appeared in the other two (I'm talking about the paranormal investigators working with Elise) and their back stories were told but it's just not that interesting. In fact they weren't all that interesting either.

Then there's the scary bits. It's all been done before. And worse still it's been done I think, in the previous two films. You know what's going to happen the moment you notice that the camera has panned a certain way or stopped and composed a scene. You get the same down the stairway shot looking into the dark. The same jump scares, the same sudden grab at the main character. Heck there's even a scene that's obviously ripped off of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. No single scene in this movie is original.

Is that the same lamp as the one in the other movies? I can't remember. ©Sony Pictures

I know this movie is the Leigh Whannel's directorial debut and yeah I guess we can give him a break when it comes to how well his direction is but seriously he wrote the last two and although I know I said I don't remember them much I also don't remember the story or how it's told being so bad. Predictable yes but not entirely bad. Maybe that's James Wan's contribution as a director, being able to craft and tell a better story for the screen. But for the writer of the screenplay to not be able to tell his own story is sort of sad, isn't it?

So basically I sat through this movie watching the characters go through scary experiences and trying to get me interested in them but I wasn't. The scary bits were a little too predictable. Some scenes were just so ridiculous and/or badly done that I found myself laughing when I don't think that was what they were going for. And the ending was just so lame that it basically capped off a movie that I found to be quite uninteresting that much more silly. It's bad enough that I don't know what I'm trying to say right just then in that last sentence. Also I couldn't figure out in what decade this movie was supposed to be set in, Quinn has a motorola sidekick, talks about taking a picture with it then blogging with it and has a videochat with her friend on a Macbook Pro and this movie is supposed to happen before the other movies which as I remember it had none of the above. Heck the characters as I remember it didn't even have a cellphone. Also they looked like they lived in the 70's or 80's

See he's not that evil. He just wants someone to take care of while he spends eternity in limbo. ©Sony Pictures

So who should watch this movie? Well, if you've been a fan of the movie then I'd suggest to give it a miss. You won't be filling in any gaps with this movie. And trust me learning about Elise's past isn't suddenly going to make you love the other two movie more. And that's assuming you actually find something interesting that would add on to what you know and care about her character from the other two. But if you must go watch it then go. It's your money. If you're looking for a quick scare or to bring a date whom you expect to grab on to you when the scary bits show up then sure why not, just remember not to expect too much in terms of being entertained or of finding anything original. If you're a fan of the genre then honestly you're not missing much here. There's nothing here you haven't seen before but if you must watch it just because you are a fan then it's your money go do what you want with it.

All in all I walked out of the cinema feeling completely unsatisfied in every way. In fact, I felt a little stupid for watching it. So you can expect that I'm not going to give this movie a good rating. In fact, I'm being generous when I give this a 2 out of 5. I'm feeling generous because it's his first directorial debut. Although maybe I should give it a lower rating so that he's never given another chance? Nah. Everyone deserves a second chance.




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