Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell
Plot: Set a few years before the Lambert haunting, psychic Elise Rainier comes out of retirement to help a young girl haunted by an evil spirit after trying to make contact with her late mother.
Review: In Chapter 3 of the Insidious franchise, we step away from the Lamberts and focus on Elise the psychic, who is actually one of the best things about these films.
While the story is also about the Brenner family, equal measure is given to Elise, who has retired from giving readings after coming into contact with a spirit who has threatened to kill her, a spirit which followers of the franchise will immediately recognize. Anyway, Quinn Brenner, a teenager and aspiring actress, has attempted to contact her late mother but inadvertently brings back an evil spirit that haunts her every night. Refusing to help at first, Elise finally relents when she realises the girl's life is in grave danger.
James Wan, director of the first two chapters, steps down this time and puts on the producer's hat (and supplies a cameo), leaving collaborator Leigh Whannell to direct instead. Whannell clearly knows his characters well and does his best to flesh them out, giving most of the attention to Elise and Quinn, though he strangely gives Quinn's father Sean too little to do. However, unlike Wan, Whannell doesn't have the ability to get under the audience's skin, resorting to jump scares plenty of times. There are some genuinely spooky moments here and there, but nothing truly terrifying.
But Whannell does succeed in connecting this film to the first two, by bringing back a couple of familiar spirits from the franchise, as well as the well loved duo of Tucker and Specs, played by Angus Sampson and Whannell himself. In this film, the duo are introduced as amateur ghost hunters, the kind you see on TV, and they're still quite entertaining to watch, lightening the mood whenever necessary. Whannell also gives Elise a solid backstory which solidifies her role as the franchise's hero.
The best thing about this film is Lin Shaye, who is the heart of this whole franchise. Shaye gives Elise the right balance of bravado and vulnerability to make her a believable hero and a very convincing psychic. Stefanie Scott is also promising as Quinn, but Dermot Mulroney doesn't have much to bring to the table as Sean here, but he does what he can with what he's given.
Overall, Insidious Chapter 3 may not be scary, but still manages to entertain on a certain level. Fans of the franchise will probably love this more than non-fans. (7/10)