Insidious: Chapter 3

★½
It’s funny to think this was actually intended to be a horror movie.
Movie Review #975

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What do you call a cheesy, thoroughly unsubtle drama, where gossip, boyfriends, cell phones, and the rest of the cliché high school lifestyle dominate the first thirty minutes, and demons and ghosts and ghouls and all kinds of spooky shit dominate the last sixty? Seeing how that’s been executed in “Insidious: Chapter 3”, call that a really stupid movie. It makes me laugh that Leigh Whannell is convinced this is the description of a horror movie.

“Insidious: Chapter 3” is hardly a prequel to “Chapter 2”. The tone is far less grounded here, and most of the characters have nothing to do with anybody we’ve seen in the two previous movies. If this entry trying to explain the origins of the three paranormal experts, then maybe it’d be a prequel, but that explanation amounts to about a minute of screen time. It’s really just another outing with those paranormal folks–Elise Rainier, Specs, and Tucker–and some yuppie family that doesn’t really give us a reason to enjoy their presence onscreen. Seeing that Elise Rainier holds more of a leading role in this “chapter” than in the first two, it feels a bit like a spinoff.

“Chapter 3” is more tolerable than “Chapter 2”, which managed to knit familiarity and confusion into a seamless debacle. But as difficult as the previous entry was, at least it was a horror movie. Nearly a third of “Chapter 3” seems to have been spliced out of a Lifetime movie. Quinn (Stefanie Scott) has recently lost her mother. She’s graduating next year, so she auditions for a music school that she wants to go to. Turns out her audition sucks, which puts her in a tizzy. She texts her boyfriend a lot. Why they don’t just talk face-to-face, I’m not quite sure.

But all that changes about thirty minutes through the movie, when Quinn walks out in the middle of the street and gets hit by the car. Clearly, the driver was an idiot, because he had his lights on, and she had a white shirt on, so she shouldn’t have been too difficult to see at night, but the asshole just blows right through her. I guess that’s not the point. Anyway, this is where “Insidious: Chapter 3” finally becomes a horror movie, with just around an hour to spare in the running time. The rest of the movie is rather basic: Quinn wants to communicate with her mother, so she contacts Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). The catch is that if she calls out to her mother, all the other dead people will hear, too. (Come on, they’re dead, so can they really do anything about it?)

I preferred the thirty minutes of setup, honestly. It proved to be utterly useless to the rest of the plot, but at least, for the first thirty minutes, we weren’t growing aggravated with tens of utterly obnoxious jump scares. Each one of them is prolonged for between thirty seconds and a minute. The colossal overextension is practically mental torture. It’s like driving a mile and a half down the highway behind an old guy who insists on going 15 miles an hour. The worst of it is that sound editor cranks up the volume past 11 for each jump scare, so you will jump. You feel utterly cheated by these sorts of scenes, and it doesn’t help that they come around so frequently. If there’s anything that is surprising about these movie, it’s the length of time I spent thinking, “Hurry up already!”

As cheap as these jump scares were, I wish the movie was cheap, too. Being an employee at the movies, I got to see it for free, but I greatly pity anyone who has to pay to see this trash. If I weren’t in a movie theater, I might have been whistling the Jeopardy! theme.

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