Insidious: Chapter 3 offers new emotional backstory, more intense thrills

By Kennedy Stidham, Editor in Chief

A Promo poster for the film
A Promo poster for the film

As fans settle in their seats to watch the new hit Insidious: Chapter 3, they will expect to be shocked. They will expected to be scared. They will expect to be thrilled. But as the movie starts, all expectations will be surpassed.

The plot follows the Brenner family who comes into contact with the supernatural forces from The Further after the daughter, Quinn, attempts to contact her late mother with help of psychic Elise Rainier. The result is a film that both pulls at the heart strings of viewers and gives them goosebumps.

The film has captured new and old fans world wide. Since it opened in theaters on June 5, the flick has brought in over $30 million in revenue, beating other highly anticipated movies like Entourage, Pitch Perfect 2 and Fast and Furious 7. 

Much of the success of the film is due to lead starlet Stefanie Scott. Scott portrays the young protagonist Quinn as she deals with the emotional trauma of losing her mother and then the terror because of the demons.

“Stefanie contributes so much to creating the sense of a realistically portrayed family that you’re pulling for in extraordinary circumstances,” actor Dermot Mulroney, who plays Quinn’s father, Sean, said. “This is a young actor who takes her job seriously.”

Scott, who has a role in Disney’s A.N.T Farm, shines in her first appearance in a horror film. Writer and director Leigh Whannell had a unique approach to help Scott make the transition.

“Leigh walked me into a closet,” Scott said. “He made me listen to death-metal music for 30 minutes, in the dark. He had a guard posted outside the door, and he would rush in and check my headphones to make sure I hadn’t turned down the volume. It was awful, but by the time I did the scene, I was ready!”

Scott also went to a psychic, just as her character did.

“It was a very surreal experience,” Scott said. “The psychic predicted my future.”

However, there was more to the film that Scott had to prepare for. She also needed to connect with her character emotionally. Whannell had her write her own thoughts in the journal that fans see in the movie, and had her read about loss to better understand her character’s pain.

“The character of Quinn is carrying a lot of emotional baggage, and Stefanie brings a lot of empathy to her performance,” producer Oren Peli said.

An equally important performance is that of Lin Shaye, who Insidious fans will recognize as the psychic Elise from earlier movies in the trilogy. In the second film, Elise died in her struggle to save another family. Feeling that she was an essential part to the movies, however, Whannell felt compelled to bring her back.

“I love the character, and I wondered how I could bring her back,” Whannell said. “Dealing with ‘ghost Elise’ wasn’t the idea; I wanted her alive! People enjoyed the time-spanning storytelling that we advanced in the second movie, and I felt that would help me find a story that gives deeper meaning to Elise’s journey.”

Scarred by her own loss, Elise is reluctant to use her abilities to contact the Further, but her loss also allows her to empathize with the young Quinn and feel protective and compelled to help her. The relationship that develops between Quinn and Elise is a major part of the film. They are connected by their pain, but they are also very different in their personalities, so they complement each other well.

“Our characters were meant to meet,” Scott said. “They need each other.  There’s a beautiful connection there, and really quite the unlikely team. I don’t think they’re the average pair you see leading a movie.”

Share said that the emotional undertone of the movie was her personal favorite part of the project, and she believes audiences will feel the same way.

“In Insidious: Chapter 3, we learn more about Elise’s personal life,” Shaye said. “These ideas were exciting, because character and story are what matter to me. Elements of this new story, what this family faces down and what Elise does, will touch people in a very human way.”

Shaye is commended by her producers and directors not only for her ability to portray the emotions associated with her character, but also for her ability to transport the audience into the film through effective acting.

“When you see Lin playing Elise, you believe that she is able to communicate with demons and ghosts,” producer James Blum said. “In most movies about the paranormal, it’s hard to make the character of the expert feel credible, but Lin is terrific at doing just that.”

However, the emotional aspects are not the only thing unique about the third chapter. The thrills are also intensified as the audience is taken “deeper into the terrifying world” that is The Further, and Elise and Quinn battle “a demon with an insatiable craving for human souls”.

“We learn more about The Further in this movie – but from a different angle,” Peli said. “This take has elements the audience hasn’t seen in previous movies, and a lot of scares.”

This new “take” on the Insidious plot line is due in part to the fact that Whannell took the reigns from previous director James Wan and put his unique spin on it.

“My style is a little different than James’s, which is important because while I am following the template of the first two movies and Insidious: Chapter 3 certainly exists in the same universe, I knew I wasn’t going to do a carbon copy of what James did,” Whannell said. “I wanted to continue to build up these stories’ world but not repeat what we’d done before.”