Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, frightening images and mature themes
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features
The good news about “Insidious 3” is that you don’t have to be cognizant of the develoments in the first two episodes to follow this one’s plotline. That’s because it’s a stand-alone prequel which doesn’t revolve around the Lamberts, the family haunted by ghosts in the franchise’s previous installments.
The best news of all is that, despite being rated only PG-13, this harrowing adventure was still scary enough to teach me that I can scream louder than my wife! Guaranteed to have you jumping out of your skin, “Insidious 3” is a cinematic throwback evocative of that earlier era when horror flick filmmakers cared more about subtly sowing the seeds of suspense instead of simply splattering the screen with gruesome slasher fare.
The movie marks the impressive directorial debut of Australian Leigh Whannell who both wrote and acted in “Insidious 1 and 2.” The film again features Lin Shaye (There’s Something about Mary) as Elise Rainier, the gifted psychic with an uncanny ability to commune with the afterlife.
As the film unfolds, we find the inconsolable Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) trying to hire the cloistered clairvoyant for help in communicating with the spirit of her late mother (Ele Keats). Elise, declines the offer, explaining that she’s retired, but gives the grieving teen an ominous piece of advice, namely, “Don’t try to contact your mom on your own.”
Quinn returns home to the mythical town of Leland Park where she lives in an apartment with her father (Dermot Mulroney) and little brother, Alex (Tate Berney). Of course, she disregards Elise’s warning, and next thing you know paranormal activity ensues, a waving apparition, here, a disembodied voice, there, an unexplained crack in the ceiling, bloody footprints on the floor, and so on.
Quinn’s distracted dad proves to be worthless, since he can’t even remember that she’s a vegetarian when making a meal. At least the cute boy next-door (Ashton Moio) seems concerned about her welfare. Nevertheless, ghostly activities escalate to the point where Elise finally agrees to get involved and stage a showdown of a séance.
Sure the storyline might read like stock fright fare but, trust me, “Insidious 3 is” one of those expertly-edited horror flicks that repeatedly shocks you when least expected. Again and again, it makes you jump from your seat, then lulls you back into a false sense of security only to deliver another jolt.
A chilling spine-tingler certain to elicit lots of bloodcurdling screams!