This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak with writer/director/actor Leigh Whannell at WonderCon to learn more about what we can expect from the third installment of the Insidious franchise. As a prequel, Insidious: Chapter 3 takes fans back in time to discover how Elise (Lin Shaye), Specs (Whannell), and Tucker (Angus Sampson) came together to become the ghost hunters we know and love. Learn about his writing process and how he conceived the film’s main antagonist below.
After leading the charge with the last two Insidious films, James Wan stepped down in order to direct a little indie called Furious 7 – you’ve probably never heard of it. Whannell, who has written and starred in all three films, took over as director for Insidious: Chapter 3 with Wan still attached as a producer. Through his experience, Leigh had a pretty clear vision going in as to what this prequel would focus on.
“I really tried to think about the themes of the film before I started writing. I remember sitting down and thinking, ‘What is supernatural horror really about?’ That particular sub-genre of horror, I came to the conclusion that it’s all about death. Proof of life after death. It’s such a weird thing to talk about.
“It sounds morbid,” he jokes. “but we’re all going to die. But we all ignore it.”
(Here’s a bonus pic of Dermot Mulroney and Stefanie Scott)
Having a grasp of themes and story can go a long way when making a horror movie. I know when I go to see a horror film I appreciate the extra consideration in developing the story rather than just having a goal to scare people. It can make a big difference because you feel more engaged and attached to the character’s plight.
As the conversation led down a more macabre path, the filmmaker further discussed his fascination with mortality.
“I obsess about death. I really want to know if there’s life after death, and I think that a lot of the planet is so sure there is. Until I see a ghost, I don’t know if there’s life after death, and that question drives me crazy. So this film is really about that. Everyone in the film has lost somebody and they’re trying to communicate to them, the dead.”
Which brings us to the big bad of our story. The one who Whannell and the folks at Blumhouse Productions hopes we see in our nightmares. If you’ve watched the trailers you have already caught a glimpse of the supernatural entity, however, I’m very sensitive when it comes to spoilers and want to give you caution before reading ahead.
Below you’ll learn the name of the supernatural entity – it’s on IMDb also so beware – as well as what kind of role it plays into the story. I’ve also captured a screenshot of it. So I would consider these facts and the image to be spoiler-ish for those seeking to go in fresh without any context, which I always find is the best way to watch a horror movie.
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Behold, The Man Who Can’t Breathe. This is how Leigh describes him:
“To me he is the physical embodiment of cancer. I remember saying to the special effects makeup team, ‘If cancer was a person, what would he look like?'”
“He symbolizes all the pain and misfortune that can visit people in their lives. I found him very unsettling.”
He looks very unsettling. And the clip they showed during the panel were pretty high-tension and hair-raising. I remember watching the first Insidious and never felt more tense from watching a horror film ever. Until I saw The Conjuring, where I actually got chills down my back.
I didn’t think Insidious: Chapter 2 was anything special; it had unique ideas, but the execution was lackluster. But from what I’ve seen and know about Chapter 3, my anticipation is pretty high.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Insidious: Chapter 3, courtesy of Blumhouse Productions:
The new chapter in the terrifying horror series is written and directed by franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell. This chilling prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family, reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
Written, directed, and starring Leigh Whannell, Insidious: Chapter 3 stars Dremot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaey, Steve Coulter, and Michael Reid MacKay. The film will make its way into theaters on June 5, 2015.
You can find more WonderCon 2015 coverage here.