Director Leigh Wannell plays to Insidious’ strengths with scare by numbers sequel…

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It’s only been five years since Insidious picked up where Paranormal Activity left off in reviving the ghost story genre. Since then we have enjoyed and endured Sinister, Annabelle, The Conjuring, The Woman in Black and all the lacklustre sequels that have gone with them.

Insidious 2 was perhaps the worst of the bunch but with Insidious 3, first time director and long time mainstay of the horror scene Leigh Wannell has gone back to basics.

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Obviously this kind of thing happens a lot.

The original Insidious was an instant horror classic as it took ghosts out of the witching hour and dropped them in your front room during daylight. It was only when reverting to horror movie type by casting the demons back in shadows in the latter part of the movie that things became a bit daft. Whilst Insidious: Chapter 3 falls into the same trap, it has to be said lessons have been learnt from the disastrous Insidious 2.

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This actress is probably someone’s actual real life Grandma. Poor kid.

The second film in the Insidious franchise took itself far too seriously. If you go down that road in any genre it opens you up to increased scrutiny but particularly in horror. The reason people love franchises like The Evil Dead and the Elm Street movies is because they were under no illusions as to their audience or their artistic merit. Insidious: Chapter 3 casts series mainstay and all round wonderful actress Lin Shaye as a kind of belated scream queen and the film as a whole benefits from her po faced delivery of hilariously awful dialogue.

The result of this slightly more low brow attitude is that when the comic relief inevitably shows up it doesn’t clang as much as it did in Insidious 2. Shaye aside however the rest of the cast are uniformly terrible with Dermot Mulroney particularly cringe inducing as the wise cracking dad. Despite being a pretty experienced actress for her age, protagonist Stefanie Scott is vanilla in human form and the rest of the cast are similarly boring and forgettable. Luckily the main antagonist – ‘the man who cannot breath’ is actually the most memorable of this entire franchise and he contributes to some genuinely frightening moments. As always with these films though the scares are cheap and nothing here will leave a lasting impression.

Insidious will always be overshadowed by the far superior Sinister for me, but at least with Insidious: Chapter 3 the franchise is back on track.