From Possession

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Three: “Let ‘Em In”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 3: “Let ‘Em In”
Directed by Michael Nankin
Written by Dre Ryan

* For a review of Chapter Two, “Lupus in Fabula” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Four, “The Moveable Feast” – click here
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Five months before current events, Kat Rance (Brianne Howey) and her friend Julia (Charlotte Thomas) are driving together, talking about men. Until the conversation takes a turn to the fact Julia seems to be in love with her. Kat’s in love right back. Ah, the intrigue pours out now. After the crash, it wasn’t just the loss of a friend. It was the loss of a great, beautiful love between the two. Even more tragic. No wonder she was utterly devastated. Bad enough to have a friend die, which I’ve experienced, but to then have been in love with said friend, a likely secretive lesbian love, it’s so damn sad.
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Angela Rance (Geena Davis) hears a zealot ranting on the streets. He locks eyes with her, almost falling to the ground. Fucking weird, and definitely unsettles her. She receives Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) at the same time, who’s likewise entranced by the ravings of the man on the street. Except maybe even more.
At one of the crime scenes from the end of the last episode, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) tries getting a bit of information from some men outside. They say someone took the victim’s eyes out.
Over at the church, Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) speaks with Henry Rance (Alan Ruck). We discover that he had an accident at work, some scaffolding hit him in the head and that’s why he’s been so aloof. But still, he’s worried for his daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka). No worries, though. Father Keane and his street corncob are on the case!
Speaking of Casey, she’s talking to that dreaded Salesman (Robert Emmet Lunney). He keeps showing up when nobody’s around, as we now know he’s a mere apparition of her mind; I would assume of the devil. In the meantime, Father Marcus is looking around Casey’s room, getting a feel for her personality.

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During a fancy dinner, Cardinal Guillot (Torrey Hanson) is being applauded for his efforts in planning the Pope’s motorcade. There’s discussion of the Pope going through some of the poorer neighbourhoods. Of course the Holy See team aren’t exactly excited about that, although Father Tomas gets to have his say, hoping to extract the idea of “violence” out of a discussion on the poor. He further speaks about how they have much to offer in that “spiritually they are rich.” Everything’s interrupted when that crazy street zealot turns up, burning alive outside. What a fright.
Casey sits with Father Tomas and Father Marcus in the back of the church. When the younger priest gets a bit far ahead of himself, the older, more experienced exorcist steps in to ask questions. He ingratiates himself with Casey, talking about the things he’s learned of her at the Rance house. He refers to things in terms of gardening, plants and their nature. This is all a segue into prodding at the demon inside Casey. When pushed sufficiently, the Salesman turns up behind her, looming. He whispers instructions in her ear. “He doesnt lie,” she tells Father Marcus. The Salesman pleads with the girl to get out. The room then starts to shake, lights flicker, a picture falls from the wall and smashes. Finally, the presence in her comes out, strong and in control. It talks of Gabriel, the boy Father Marcus had tried to exorcise before his neck was cracked. “The universe burst open. The eye of God dilated wide and you were at the centre of his disinterest,” speaks the demon. It knows quite a bit, which horrifies Father Tomas.
Bringing their recording to Bishop Egan (Brad Armacost) and Father Bennett, the two rogue priests aren’t received too well. Father Marcus pleads that she spoke in “Aramaic” and is obviously possessed. Also, Bennett has brought along with him a letter of excommunication for Marcus. He’s naturally pissed, particularly considering he now knows the demons talk to one another, that they are “sharing information” like spies. But out he goes, kicked to the curb.

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Everyone is getting ready for a memorial to Julia, a dance performance by their company. While in the bathroom, Casey finds herself being manipulated by the Salesman, the demon in her. It pushes the curling iron against her skin, to the point she eventually begins to look to love it. Very eerie. And if you notice, she… goes lower than you might expect. Yes, that old crucifix scene has become something far more nasty and sinister.
With Marcus now booted from the church, Father Tomas wants to be taught how to exorcise demons. Because without the church, as Marcus says: “Im just a man in a room.” Ultimately, Father Tomas wants to help the Rances, to get that demon out of Casey. Marcus warns against getting too deep, that he ought to gather evidence then put it in the hands of the church. You know Tomas is not going to do that.
Before the memorial all the dancers give their props to Julia, pouring out some whiskey, drinking some. At least until Casey grabs hold of the bottle, as everybody whispers and points, wondering what she’s doing. Then when Kat confronts her she goes a bit wild. The demon’s been provoked by Father Marcus, lashing out at the golden sister. Who knows how bad it will get from here on in.
Father Tomas meets with Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), the head of the committee concerning the papal visit. He tells her a story about coming to America for the first time. Afterwards, she gives him a hundred thousand dollars for his parish. She’s rich, coming from a wealthy family that makes sturdy glass. What she truly wants is help to clean up their city.

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Father Marcus, saying fuck excommunication, goes banging on doors, but Father Bennett picks him up, obviously keeping tabs on him. Marcus is worried about those murders, the body parts taken; something to do with summoning a demon. Then Bennett brings up the self-immolation of the street zealot, which was found to have no source other than the body. Hmm.
During the dance performance Casey takes off, her father following. On a train, the two of them talk, though suddenly Henry has a bit of problem and fades out. Some guys get up in Casey’s face, one specifically, and not a soul does anything to help. That’s when the evil starts to break loose, as she sees the Salesman come towards her, no one else the wiser. He kisses her on the lips, passionately. The final embrace.
And so Casey kicks the shit out of the guy. A bit… unnaturally. She starts to send men flying around the train car. The iPhones trying to film all zap out. Casey tears the skin right from the one guy’s bones: “If you want it rough, all you had to do was ask.” She further reaches into his jaw and cracks it sideways. Covered in blood, she stands wobbling. After that she goes full Regan and pisses herself on the floor. Wow.

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This was the BEST EPISODE YET! Amazing. Lots of terror, more interesting bits of character. And lots of Ben Daniels being a fucking bad ass. Love how the demonic possession is framed, using The Salesman, as a seduction. Interesting and unique.
Next is “The Moveable Feast” – nice Ernest Hemingway reference for the literature lovers.

Insidious: Chapter 3 is a Welcomed Creepy Surprise

Insidious: Chapter 3. 2014. Directed & Written by Leigh Whannell.
Starring Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Tate Berney, Michael Reid MacKay, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko, Corbett Tuck, and Tom Fitzpatrick. Blumhouse Productions.
Rated 14A. 97 minutes.
Drama/Horror/Thriller

★★★1/2
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I’m a fan of the two previous Insidious films. Reason being, I think James Wan did a pretty damn good job, together with the script from Leigh Whannell, in conjuring up a tense, suspenseful, and eerie atmosphere. Above all, I love when a horror film can carry that sort of atmosphere and tone throughout its runtime. While they’re not perfect, the first two movies were scary; to me anyways. I dig a good haunted house story and Wan/Whannell provided that with Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2.
There was no surprise Blumhouse would try and pump out another one. I waited with baited breath to see exactly what might come out of it and I didn’t exactly expect that the third in the trilogy would live up to what the first two created. However, I was slightly surprised. It isn’t great, but Insidious: Chapter 3 has a good bit of that atmosphere and tone from the first two, as well as the fact Lin Shaye returns in another stellar performance as embattled demon seeker Elise Rainier. One thing I think that helps most is the fact Leigh Whannell not only writes this entry in the series, he makes his directorial debut with the third part, which extends much of the creepiness created by himself and Wan throughout the first two movies.

Taking place a long time after Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) helped a young Josh Lambert with his problems, and just before Josh’s own son Dalton went through the same trouble, Insidious: Chapter 3 begins with Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) going to see Elise Rainier unannounced. Her mother passed away and Quinn wants to contact her. Unfortunately, while trying to help Elise is clearly troubled; she advises Quinn find someone else who does the same thing and get them to help.
At home, Quinn’s single father Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney) tries to wrangle everything by himself. Between Quinn and her little brother Alex (Tate Berney), things are hectic.
An aspiring actress, Quinn heads to an audition. She’s looking to get into a good acting school for her post-secondary studies. Instead, out of nowhere, Quinn is hit by a car. This propels her, for the briefest of time, into The Further. After she comes back quickly, out of the darkness and back to reality, Quinn has clearly seen something inexplainable, something in another world. This sets off all the mysterious events which follow.
0c37e0c2ef44b7f252477c7f3e71111f3b898ec7.jpg__0x1500_q85I thought the writing – especially the characters themselves – was fairly solid. Once again, the family is a centrepiece for all of what unfolds in terms of The Further (see my other reviews for Part 1/Part 2 if for some reason you’ve not watched the previous movies) coming into play. For instance, the teenage characters don’t come off as too forcibly written on Whannell’s part. What I mean is that they’re smart, obviously, but they don’t say these ridiculously eloquent, elaborate things NO highschooler would ever say; I can’t think of great examples off the top of my head, but you know the types, you’ve seen them before. So that’s one thing I thought Whannell did great with because too many screenwriters – especially male screenwriters trying to write female characters –

Some people say Insidious: Chapter 3 is not as scary as the others. Me, I say there’s definitely some nice, creepy stuff happening in this instalment. Even quickly off the bat, Quinn starts seeing a shadowy figure in the distance waving to her, almost calling out for Quinn to follow. First, the figure appears in the catwalk at the theatre where she’s auditioning. Then in the streets, right before she’s hit by a car, the figure – a man – waves at her from far off once more. These little bits help to make a similar dreadful atmosphere as Wan culled in the first two films. Although here it’s different, which isn’t a bad thing. Everything is still eerie, though, Whannell brings his own style to the mix.
I also liked the little quick jump-scare of the man’s face in close-up – when Quinn slips into The Further briefly while surgeons are working away on her after the car accident, the terrifying face flashes quickly. What I love most about this is how it reminds me of the quick flashes of the demon in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist; not sure if this was intentional, but it does bring that shot to my mind specifically. Also, this didn’t make me want to have a heart attack like certain jumps do. It was brief and very effective at the same time.
Insidious3-4A huge aspect of why I enjoyed this third film is because we’re getting more out of the character Elise Rainier. Even in the slightest ways – she lays down in bed and says “Goodnight Jack” and hugs tight to what looks like a man’s sweater. So there’s depth to Elise, she isn’t merely a one-note psychic sort fo woman. And I love that, not just simply due to the fact Lin Shaye is a total badass and wonderful actress (even in her slovenly role as Landlady in Kingpin which still haunts me to this very day). Elise is a big part of why I loved both movies; I’m not huge on her sidekicks, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), but I think her alone is enough to keep anyone interested. Particularly, after we’re treated to the flashbacks showing a young Josh Lambert being plagued by demons in The Further and Elise coming to their aid, doesn’t it make you just want to know everything about her? Then there’s her relationship with Carl (Steve Coulter), who showed up in the last film, which I thought was an excellent inclusion. In this movie, we see a little more of Carl and so his character/story gets a little more broad than before.
Most of all, though, it’s Elise. She is what draws me to the franchise overall, as it’s her who has dealt most closely with demons and The Further, she knows all about it and she has all the senses. I love the scene here where she’s lying in bed, hugging her obviously late husband’s cardigan (we discover later for sure he committed suicide only a year before), and then out of nowhere she feels something, a presence, she scrambles for the light – nothing’s there, yet the air feels terrifying. Good stuff showing how sensitive Elise is to the other side opposite that of the living.
insidious33The overall aesthetic of Insidious as a franchise is something which keeps me interested. It’s the whole reason – aside from Lin Shaye – I ever bothered to go see this one.
I’m a huge fan of the score in these films. I’d not – to my shame – checked on who was the composer for the music in either of the films. So doing this review I wanted to see if it was the same person. Naturally, it was: Joseph Bishara. The reason I had to check is because, while there are plenty of similarities, Bishara does bring us some new work in the score for Chapter 3. A lot of those heavy, dreaded string bursts are still present, however, he also gives us some bright and beautiful sounding stuff such as in a few scenes with Elise. Either way, he is one part of why that finely tuned aesthetic from the series keeps going.
While the look in this film was handled by a different cinematographer, Brian Pearson, I do think he is up to snuff with how he crafts the scenes visually. Just to note, Pearson did some work as D.P on the fairly excellent series Masters of Horror, as well as a recent film I’m a big fan of – the savage and excellent American Mary. He does good stuff keeping many scenes draped in darkness, as the previous films looked. So even though it isn’t exactly the same carbon copy of style, there is a ton of similar atmosphere built up through how Pearson shoots each scene in a tone down, darkened manner.
Furthermore, the art director Jason Garner worked on the previous Chapter 2, so I think his clearly excellent work there extended to this film. For those who aren’t big on the job descriptions for film work, an art director helps to create the film’s vision in terms of locations, sets, and that in turn brings about a visual aesthetic for the film. The houses and everything which are new in this movie, they really fit in with the entire Insidious franchise world. If you watched these all simultaneously, I think they’d match up unbelievably well.

In regards to the plot, I like the character of Quinn and how she ended up in contact with The Further. Plus it plays into the whole subplot of her mother’s death, trying to reach her in the afterlife and such. It’s a great way to have spun things off from the central story of the first two Insidious films. A lot of these spin-offs can end up really spinning out of control, or just being nonsensical additions to a franchise simply for the sake of raking in money. With this movie, I don’t see it being that way. Sure – profit is the major concern of studios. However, I think especially with Leigh Whannell writing this instead of it being farmed out to writers/directors not already a part of the franchise, Insidious: Chapter 3 is able to hold up in quality near to its predecessors. It’s not as good, but I feel as if it’s pretty damn close.
Also thought it was great the way Whannell setup The Bride in Black as being an entity who actively wanted to kill Elise. This sort of explains their history, as well as why the Bride purposely got into Josh and then strangled Elise at the end of the first Insidious. Not as if there was a massive need to explain anything in detail there, I just find this movie’s script capitalized and added more depth to the other films.
maxresdefaultAll in all, I think this was a 3.5 out of 5 star film. It wasn’t perfect. My biggest complaint about Insidious: Chapter 3 is that there’s more unfunny comedy with Specs/Tucker – something I didn’t like about the others but here it’s even more unbearable with such forced comedy on behalf of the Tucker character. Very lame. Then, I also thought there was something missing about the possession angle involving Quinn. While I found Josh Lambert’s possession in the others excellent, plus Patrick Wilson played him well, I didn’t like the way they did Quinn’s possessed state. It was too similar to the rip-offs of Japanese horror in American movies. I liked lots of the stuff involving Josh being possessed, it just didn’t seem to carry over here.
The finale of the film was decent. Honestly, though, I prefer the first half to three-quarters of the film because I like the build up, the character development and a view into the already established character of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Mostly the last quarter of the movie I found wasn’t as effective as the scariness of the previous two Insidious entries. It isn’t bad, just doesn’t pack the punch you’d expect. If there was a stronger final 25 minutes I’d be more impressed.
Still, this is not bad at all. There’s room for improvement, yet I think Leigh Whannell did a decent enough job keeping up with the other films to make this a pretty good trilogy. I recommend seeing this, though, I’ll still always enjoy the first two more.
My personal favourite is Insidious: Chapter 2. How about you? Let me know in the comments.