At the very least, the Insidious franchise does not play by any rules. With the first installment Saw collaborators director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell completely shifted gears from their gruesome debut feature and transitioned into a well received, more traditional ghost story followed by a totally bonkers (albeit enjoyable) sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2. Now, Whannell is sitting in the director’s chair for the third installment, due out on June 5th, and the cast, director, and producer Jason Blum attended WonderCon in Anaheim this weekend to preview the upcoming horror feature.
The news that Insidious: Chapter 3 would be a prequel came as a surprise to most when the initial teaser trailer premiered a few months ago. For Whannell, who has been with the franchise as the screenwriter and a supporting actor since the beginning, was it daunting to add a third task of directing to the mix? Whannell told the crowd at the Blumhouse Productions panel:
“I think when we decided to do a prequel that was kind of freeing, in a way, because that means we didn’t need to pick up with the Lambert’s, Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson’s characters, so in a way it was kind of like starting with a clean slate but I knew it had to be tied to the other films so that was kind of nerve racking because James, James Wan, couldn’t direct the third because he made this other indie film… It’s like a car movie. (laughs) Obviously taking over for James there were some big shoes to fill when it comes to horror, as you know and that was the most nerve wracking part. Can I deliver a film that gets anywhere close to what James can do? So, there definitely was those nerves throughout the making of the film but I felt confident being the writer of the first two films that I could at least keep it in the same world.”
The franchise is an exciting one for producer Jason Blum, best known for other low-budget genre franchises like The Purge and Sinister. Blum said, “I think what I love about Insidious, all of the Insidious movies, is that they have a real odd-ball, quirky kind of surreal feeling and Leigh kind of carried that through with the third movie.” Singing the praises of Whannell and Wan, Blum continued by saying, “All kidding aside, James produced this movie and was very involved in the movie, so as much as I like to kid, and I’m not being political, he would be very happy that this movie would be scary or the scariest of the three, and in truth, he was very involved in producing it from start to finish…”
For veteran genre actress Lin Shaye, how does her character, the beloved medium Elise, get involved in the prequel to the Lambert’s journey that was featured in Chapters 1 and 2? Shaye filled in some of the details, saying:
“I’m basically led into the story. I have my own story, which I don’t want to give too much away, but you learn who Elise is before she even meets the Lamberts later, and I’m drawn into Stephanie’s story because we’ve all experienced loss, which is a very big theme in the film, and I think in some ways makes this the scariest film of the three because it deals with something very personal to all of us and to all of you. Everyone has experienced loss in their own way and Elise is attracted to this story and is led back into this story because of her own experience. So it’s a very rich tapestry of people who have all experienced something very sad in their life and how they can all support each other through finding the answer that will help them to the next place. I love this movie! (laughs) I totally am in love with this movie!”
Whannell also previewed the new demon for the third chapter, following in the footsteps of The Lipstick Demon and The Woman in Black:
“For me, The Man Who Can’t Breathe, who is the main villain of this film, to me he is the physical embodiment of cancer… He kind of represents something. We don’t know much about him, he doesn’t have a name, we just refer to him as ‘The Man Who Can’t Breathe’ and to me he’s more of a symbol. He symbolizes all the pain and misfortune that can visit people in their life whether it’s pain or an illness or whatever and that’s what he is to me. I found him really unsettling, this guy that when he visits you he’s like a black cloud that brings all this misfortune.”
Insidious: Chapter 3 opens in theaters on June 5.