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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Insidious: Chapter 3 (Blu-ray)
Insidious: Chapter 3 (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // October 6, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 6, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Insidious: Chapter 3, the latest entry in the franchise, isn't a sequel but a prequel that takes place before the events depicted in the original movie where the Lambert family had to deal with all that supernatural terror that befell them. This film is also the first in the series not to be directed by James Wan, instead it's helmed by Leigh Whannell (who not only wrote the first two movies and a few of the Saw films but who also plays Specs in the series).

The movie tells the story of Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a teenage girl who still grieves over the loss of her mother who passed away about a year ago from cancer. Quinn lives with her father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney), who is still adjusting to life as a single parent, and her younger brother Alex (Tate Berney), to whom she has become a sort of surrogate mother in her own right. When Quinn starts to suspect that her mother is trying to reach out to her, she winds up contacting a psychic named Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye reprising the role) who she hopes will be able to help her get in touch with her mother's spirit. Elise isn't interested. She's had bad experiences with this type of thing in the past and doesn't care to give it another run.

Quinn winds up seeing a shadowy figure she refers to as ‘the man who can't breathe' skulking about the house and then, when distracted outside by someone waving at her, is hit by a car. After this happens, Elise relents. Knowing that she can use her gift to help people, Elise agrees to do one more reading to try and help the girl out, even if it means putting herself in danger. That's when things start to get bizarre. With both of her legs broken and Sean doing his best to look after her, it becomes quite clear that something from the other side is haunting Quinn, and that it's definitely not her mother. As things go from bad to worse, they bring in some additional help in the form of Specs (Whannell)and Tucker (Angus Sampson).

Like the two movies made before this one, this third installment in the Insidious series mixes up decent scares and some welcome and fitting comedy as well. As most familiar with the run will guess, the comic relief comes from Specs and Tucker, and that's the case here as well. It's interesting to get a chance to see how they become involved with Elise and her operation here and thankfully the humor is never overdone and it never feels out of place, rather, it provides a nice balance. The three actors here, Lin Shaye in particular, do a great job with these characters and it's these characters, more so than the members of the Brenner family, that keeps the movie interesting. Not to take away from Stefanie Scott's performance, she's perfectly fine in the part, but her character just isn't that interesting. She's good when the scares ramp up, plenty convincing, but Quinn Brenner isn't such a memorable heroine. Dermot Mulroney is also fine as the single dad still learning the ropes. We feel for him and sympathize with his situation, a rather tough spot made tougher once the ghostly highjinks ensue, but once the movie is over you don't really feel like you need more from either the Quinn or the Sean Brenner characters. The plight of the Lambert's seemed more dramatically sound and therefore more engaging than what we get here. It's not awful, it's not a disaster, in fact it's perfectly sufficient… just unremarkable.

As far as the ‘horror quotient' of the movie is concerned, the film scores well in that department. Like the earlier movies a lot of what haunts the characters here is shown in shadows, at least to start with. The whole ‘man who can't breathe' character is eerie and presents Whannell and company with some good opportunities to build tension whenever he's around. But do we get lasting horror or is it all a bunch of jump scares? Honestly, it's a mix of both. The jump scares are here and fairly plentiful, but they're also very well timed and typically come preceded by some nice build up and suspense. In short, the fit into the story properly and don't feel like things jumping out and going ‘BOO!' simply for the sake of having things jump out and say ‘BOO!.'

Although the movie has a bit of trouble delivering a finale that's as solid as the build-up, this is still a decent movie and a worthy sequel. It's also pretty friendly to those experiencing the Insidious movies for the first time as you don't really need to be familiar with those films to enjoy this one. It might not be a modern horror masterpiece and giving the Brenner's a bit more personality would have helped, but this is worth seeing.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Insidious: Chapter 3 looks great in this AVC encoded 2.39.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. While a lot of the movie is shot with that sort of cool blue tint that Wan is known for using, this isn't at the expense of detail and it actually works well in the context of the film's atmosphere. Detail is frequently striking and particularly revelatory in facial close up shots, while medium and long distance shots fare almost as well. Black levels are very strong, which is important considering how much of the movie takes place in the dark, while flesh tones look lifelike and accurate. Shot digitally in high definition, this digital to digital transfer obviously doesn't suffer from any print damage or grain and the well encoded transfer is free of compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues. All in all, the picture quality here is excellent.

Audio:

The main audio option on the disc is a good one, a fantastic one, actually, as the English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this disc is killer. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish. For a film as reliant on stings and jump scares as this one, it's important that the low end be strong and there are certainly no problems here in that regard as bass is plentiful and powerful. Dialogue is always crisp and clear and there are loads of great ambient effects used in the quieter and more dramatic scenes to keep you on your toes and plenty more used in the more action intensive scenes to heighten tension and provide some fun scares. A Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is also included.

Extras:

The extras on this disc start off with a featurette called Origin Story: Making Chapter 3 that runs nineteen minutes and serves as a general ‘making of' piece. It examines what makes the Insidious films interesting and unique by discussing the characters, the plot lines that run through the movies and then some characteristics specific to this third film like the director, the performances and the design work. Stunts: The Car Crash is, as you could probably guess, a segment that explores how the movie's most impressive and technically complex set piece was created. At just under ten minutes it's quite interesting. The nine minute long Macabre Creations is another SFX piece, though this time it explores the way in which practical makeup effects are blended with post production CGI work to create the ghoulish creatures that populate the movie. Giving us some insight into the music used in the movie, we get a five minute piece called Cherry Glazerr: Tiptoe Through The Tulips wherein Stefanie Scott interviews the musicians that covered the classic Tiny Tim song used in the first movie. We also get an eleven minute piece called Being Haunted: A Psychic Medium Speaks. Here a psychic medium named Michael J. Kouri who offers up some genuinely interesting input into how his specific occupation is presented in the Insidious films, his thoughts on that, and some bizarre and even eerie real life experiences of his own that related to some of the themes and ideas explored in the movies.

Aside from that, we also get a trio of Deleted Scenes that run roughly five and a half minutes in total, animated menus, chapter selection and previews for a few other Sony properties. The Blu-ray disc also comes packaged with a download code printed on an insert inside the case that will allow you to download an Ultra-Violet digital HD version of the movie.

Final Thoughts:

Insidious: Chapter 3 isn't as compelling, from a storytelling standpoint, as the first two movies are but the acting and some of the characters are still pretty great and the movie doesn't lack in style or suspense. As such, it's definitely still worth seeing if you've enjoyed the first two movies, and getting some background on the events that took place prior to the first movie is an effective way to bring us back for more. Sony's Blu-ray disc contains a good amount of extras and offers a top notch transfer and very strong audio. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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