INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 REVIEW

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Spook me once, shame on you. Spook me twice, shame on me. Spook me thr- If you can do that, then you’re doing something right.

They still got it! The third (Well, first) installment of the relentless Insidious franchise haunts the silver screen yet again. And let’s just say, I wasn’t screaming for my money back.

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that 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.

If you had asked if there were any decent horror films about these days? Insidious and The Conjuring would have probably been the only examples my brain could muster. Okay maybe Paranormal Activity (The original and the third at a push).

I went in to the first Insidious expecting nothing after so many demonic duds and was rewarded with nail biting tension, jumps, a story and characters I actually gave two monkeys about. Understandably it fared well. Bringing back the old school haunted house horror genre with a bang!

I liked how writer/director Leigh Whannell put a fresh spin on the whole thing by incorporating the idea of the paranormal dimensions and The Further. It really stood out for me even when the scares may have been a little lacklustre. Inevitably a sequel was soon green-lit and a franchise was born.

I won’t spoil too much for those who haven’t seen the other films or Annabelle (The less we say about that, the better. The only disappointment of Whannell’s creepy collection). If anything, this would probably be the best one to start with.

Recurring characters and little references may spoil the experience a little but you can fill the blanks quite easily. BUT the opening of Insidious 3 didn’t really get things going and I could feel my hopes wading fast. NOT even the opening score that used to scare the living daylights out of me did anything. It seemed like someone had forgot to turn the volume on. Normally, I dread the opening titles. Can’t remember. Let’s remind you . . .

A weak Lin Shaye performing a reading with Scott’s peppy acting student was cliched and slow. Not a great start. We had to watch minutes tick by as Scott spoke about her family and the recent passing of her mother. It was all by the book and predictable.

The broken family dynamic with Delmot Mulroney’s dreary (No seriously. Was he on something?) dad unable to cope was unintentionally comical. Scott’s flirty exchanges with the boy next door. Sigh. Boring. Thankfully Whannell didn’t bother focusing on that love angle at all. A relief.

BUT then strange things began to happen. Weird figures waving (No seriously. What was the deal with the waving?) Disappearing and reappearing. AND out of nowhere. BAM! One nasty accident. The film found it’s form. And I was an anxious mess.

Before I knew it, the jumps flew in thick and fast. The tension and suspense may have been predictable but it still got my heart racing. The sly hand across face to wipe hair that wasn’t there. Just in case something lashed out from under the bed or something.

Scott played the role well and managed to make a memorable turn. It was just a shame that her character was so cliched and when she had the leg cast, there wasn’t much she could do. If anything, this wasn’t really her story.

It was the story of one of my favourite characters in the franchise, Lin Shaye’s medium Elise Rainier. As soon as she appeared in the first Insidious, I was intrigued. A well written character that had an interesting and mysterious back story.

Whannell finally shows us that very back story that the previous two merely hinted at. He also creates a new creepy demon to give people sleepless nights with The Man Who Couldn’t Breathe (Michael Reid MacKay). The demon that has taken a shine to Scott’s Quinn.

Despite a slumbering start, Insidious Chapter 3 did something that other horror films have failed to do. Keep me interested. It was tense, suspenseful and creepy. You could argue the build up was predictable. The figures in the curtains. The faint little voices. The OTT and incredibly loud movie score making you tremble if the scare didn’t.

BUT believe me there were a quite few scares that got me. Normally I can sit there and deliver a countdown before a jumpy bit emerges. Not this time. It’s good when you fear that all the best bits have been flogged in the trailer. Only to be proved wrong in the first 30 minutes.

For Insidious fans, we finally understand Rainier’s reluctance to help the Lambert family from the earlier films (No, get this right. Later films). If anything, you have more respect for her. Either that or you’ll think she’s even more bonkers for venturing into the Further again.

Tom Fitzpatrick’s The Bride in Black makes a very unwelcome return. Only because the b*stard kept making me jump. No seriously, he made me jump twice doing the exact same thing. And be warned a certain Darth Maul looking like demon does make a surprise appearance.

The only problem with The Bride in Black was that the more he appeared, the funnier it got. An encounter with Rainier should have a pivotal moment but it came off like something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. I would show the clip BUT the horror, the horror!

And of course, we get to see how Rainier got together with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Their presence did lighten things up but didn’t spoil anything. To be honest, the film was strong enough without them but it was nice for Whannell to make everything come full circle.

The pace may have been patchy. The opening a little slow. More could have been made from Rainier’s past. BUT once it got going, I was one happy horror fan. And I felt the film got stronger like it’s demented host as it drew to it’s frantic (and slightly corny) close. I actually preferred this outing to Insidious Chapter 2.

And you know what? I can’t wait for another spooky encounter.

3/5

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OUIJA REVIEW

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I wish they could have used the Ouija board to summon something better.

The wait continues. Bar a few jumpy moments; another poorly written, schlocky horror film hits the big screen. Is it time that Hollywood give up the ghost(s)?

Unfortunately using a low budget amateur cast with up and coming newbies meant one thing. That this film made money. Which means . . . More of this horrific bilge to come.

So what’s it all about? A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.

Apparently, according to the studio release. I didn’t see anyone confronting their fears. Just running around aimlessly or screaming every 20 seconds (like the annoying spectator at the cinema).

The concept is hardly original but if executed properly, the possibilities are endless. If not? Well you get this.

I was really disappointed. It was the perfect platform for a virtually new and unknown cast to make a name for themselves.

It was great to see Olivia Cooke (Emma Decody from Bates Motel) get a leading role. Her supporting turn in The Quiet Ones gave me high hopes.

She does her best but her character is so flat and uninteresting. It feels like she is sleepwalking through the role. And at times she even sounds like it.

The characters were really unmemorable. I had honestly forgotten their names as soon as they appeared. I had to ask my mate who had no recollection either; merely “Bates Bird” and “that one eyed guy from Percy Jackson (Bradley Smith)”.

If not for the jumpy bits, this would have got a zero. For all my cynical meandering about the predictable checklist that this film churned through, there were several moments that got me good and proper.

It helped to have a ridiculously loud cinema sound system and a screaming spectator twitching every two minutes (No, it wasn’t us).

It took a good 40 minutes before things really got going. That’s half of the film. It felt longer than 89 minutes. The story felt like it was going through the motions.

Childhood friends play with Ouija board. Childhood friend decides to play it again. Dies. 30 minutes of dull dialogue with the gang moping around and grieving before finding said board and deciding to play it. Brilliant. NOT!

I don’t believe in the whole Ouija board thing. My brother did one before and felt that the scenes where they used the planchette (the little triangular board. I did my research. Not just strung together, you know) and asked the questions was creepy and quite accurate. To be honest, how could they get that bit wrong?

I don’t think writer/director Stiles White had seen the British equivalent Long Time Dead. That was a disaster BUT a damn sight better than this.

The characters hardly had my empathy but at least I wanted to see what happened to them. Once the Ouija stuff began, it was all the same old guff. Things moving in the background. Doors slamming. Oven hobs coming on (For some reason).

It was only as the film was ending where I got into it. It was racy, frantic and jumpy. The shadow moving on its own accord. The demonic child (Sierra Heuermann) and mother (Claudia Katz) fighting to claim victims. It finally seemed to be going somewhere. Only for it to end so abruptly and flatly that I felt like I wasted my time.

And of course; to add to my frustrations Ouija left it all open for . . . What do you know? Another installment.

Lin Shaye (Insidious) was the most memorable supporting character in the five minutes she was given. That doesn’t say a lot considering her character was unoriginal and derivative in the first place.

The wait goes on for a genuinely tense, atmospheric horror film.

Stocky, generic and bland character sleepwalk through a dull and predictable story line. If not for the jumpy scenes, I would have bailed out.

1.5/5