It wasn’t a dud! It wasn’t a dud! IT WASN’T A DUD!!!

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. I’ve seen so many bad horror films lately, it felt necessary to shout praise of a good one. And I’m not surprised that this one is so good. Leigh Whannell, James Wan, Jason Blum, and Oren Peli all worked together on this film. These guys are known for great, scary films, so when they come together you know you’ve got something worth getting excited for.

The third chapter in the Insidious saga takes place a few years before the events of the first two films. Quinn Brenner, played by Stephanie Scott, believes she’s being contacted by her dead mother, and encourages this contact. This tragically leads to a car accident that breaks both Quinn’s legs and puts her at the mercy of the spirit after her, The Man Who Can’t Breathe. At the same time, Elise Rainier, the medium from the first two movies, reappears to try and help Quinn, while facing her own darkness and a loss that has made her afraid to do what she does best.

There’s a lot to be said on this film, so I’ll try and keep it to the things I think everyone should know before going to see this one. First, the actors all handle their roles very well. Scott, along with Dermot Mulroney and Tate Berney as her harried father and annoying preteen brother, have great chemistry as a family crippled by a devastating loss and pulled together again by the dark events surrounding them. Best of all though is Lin Shaye as Elise, whose personal journey to recover her confidence is extraordinary and heart-wrenching. I almost cheered in the theater when she had finally regained her former airy manner from the first two films. Plus it’s fun to see her first interactions with Specs and Tucker and how they formed the team we met in the first film.

And speaking of the first film, there’s a notable change between Insidious 3 and its predecessors. In the first two films, they built a mythology based around astral projections and the realms of the dead (aka the Further), but Chapter 3 seems to eschew that mythology for the most part in favor of creating a good old-fashioned ghost story, and a great one too. The suspense is powerful, the atmosphere tense and the creepiness of the whole movie, coupled with the amazing visuals and sets, the jump-scares and the screeching violins in the background music, will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie.

Creepiest of all, of course, is the villain, The Man Who Can’t Breathe. Honestly, even when you see him fully in the light near the end of the movie, he’s still one of the freakiest looking villains I’ve seen in recent memory. What makes him even scarier than his appearance is that you’re not sure exactly why he’s menacing this girl or where he came from. There’s mention of him living in Quinn’s building long ago, and something about “pets” is also mentioned, but we’re never really sure what his reasons are. And that just adds to the horror factor here.

There are only two major complaints I have with this movie. One is that the character of Hector, the lovestruck boy-next-door, seems like he was going to be a bigger part of this movie than he was. Were most of his scenes cut for time? That, and I feel that the climax was a little cliched and a little too short to be truly frightening, though the ending makes up for that. Other than that, I had a really good time.

All in all, I’m giving Insidious Chapter 3 a 4.3 out of 5. A scary good movie that’s put out of my mind all the bad horror films I’ve seen lately and make me want to tiptoe through the tulips with terrified glee. And if the critics and the box office agrees with me, I think we can expect a Chapter 4 someday. And you know what? Even if it might be a little unnecessary (ah horror, the original junkie for unnecessary movie sequels), I might just be okay with that.

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