Horror takes on comedy in cinemas this weekend, but there's no clear winner based on Friday's estimates.
As ticket sales for Dwayne Johnson's San Andreas cool off a little, two very different films are vying for the number-one spot this week: the third (but probably not the last) instalment of the Insidious horror series, and Melissa McCarthy's crime comedy Spy. And they're neck and neck after one day in cinemas according to Box Office Mojo - Insidious has made $10.4million, while Spy is slightly behind with $10.25m.
Lin Shaye (the one on the right)
The directorial debut of actor-writer Leigh Whannell, Insidious: Chapter 3 has received a warmer critical reception than many people expected, but its opening-day haul is roughly half what the second film in the series made in its first 24 hours, meaning it will likely end the weekend with a considerably lower total than Chapter 2's $40.3m.
Continue reading: 'Insidious' And 'Spy' Are Neck And Neck At US Box Office
Having appeared in the first two films as Specs as well as writing them, Leigh Whannell has revealed that directing the third instalment was his plan all along.
With the third 'Insidious' movie, writer-actor Leigh Whannell makes the jump to directing. Which was his plan all along. "I always knew I wanted to direct a film," he says. "There was a period there where I thought, 'Well, I'll write 'Insidious 3', but I'll direct something that is original, not a sequel, not part of a franchise. I'll start from scratch. That way I'll feel like I'm doing what James did 10 years ago with 'Saw', busting out of the gates with a whole new product."
'Insidious: Chapter 3' was directed by Leigh Whannell
He's referring to James Wan, his close friend and colleague from film school in Melbourne, Australia, where he was born. Together, they decided to make a movie that would get their careers moving, so Wan directed and Whannell wrote and acted in 'Saw' (2004), which took off far beyond expectations. They played the same filmmaking roles for 'Insidious' and its first sequel (2010 and 2013).
Continue reading: 'Insidious: Chapter 3' Serves As Leigh Whannell's Directorial Debut
Instead of wrapping up a trilogy, writer-turned-director Leigh Whannell launches a new horror franchise with a movie that's scary even if it's not particularly original. Its trump card is a strong central performance from the wonderful Lin Shaye, who plays out a sort of origin story (although they could still go back further) for her memorable character from the first two movies.
She's Elise, a medium in touch with the spirits of the dead, and as this story starts she's closed down her practice for good. Then the bright teenager Quinn (Sophie Scott) shows up, desperate to speak to her recently deceased mother while she makes important decisions as high school comes to an end. But Quinn has inadvertently made contact with a much more malevolent spirit in her apartment building, and when her father (Dermot Mulroney) realises that her life is in danger, he convinces Elise to help. Meanwhile, Quinn's little brother Alex (Tate Berney) gets in touch with Spectral Sightings internet ghostbusters Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and Whannell), who are about to see their first real ghost.
The film looks terrific, from the everyday creep-outs in the creeky old houses and apartments to the much darker atmosphere of "the further", which Elise has to enter in order to rescue Quinn from "the man who can't breathe" (Michael Reid MacKay), a seriously gruesome spirit who isn't content just haunting the living: he wants them to join him. Shaye delivers a performance that's unusually complex for this genre, as Elise struggles to balance her past and present with a flood of emotions, a reluctant determination to help and a generous sense of prickly humour. Mulroney also adds some weight as a concerned single dad at the end of his tether. And Scott has a promising charisma in the opening scenes, less so when the plot reduces her to a scream queen.
Continue reading: Insidious: Chapter 3 Review
A year and a half ago, a young girl lost her mother. She misses her every day, and continues to relate the stories of her life to her mother, hoping that she can still be heard. The problem is, if you make contact with one ghost, all the ghosts can hear you. When Quinn (Stefanie Scott) becomes the subject of attention for a particularly harrowing phantom, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) is forced to reluctantly agree to use her powers of communicating with the dead, with the hopes of freeing Quinn from the creature that has now possessed her.
Continue: Insidious: Chapter 3 Trailer
Leigh Whannell - Shots of a host of stars as they attended Variety's Creative Impact Awards and 10 Directors to Watch brunch which was presented by Mercedes Benz and was held at Parker resort in Palm Springs, California, United States - Sunday 4th January 2015
Leigh Whannell - A host of Hollywood's biggest stars were photographed as they arrived at the Palm Springs Film Festival Gala 2015 which was held at the Palm Springs Convention Center in California, United States - Saturday 3rd January 2015
A strong undercurrent of Aussie black humour helps make this revolting story just about palatable, although the solid cast struggles to make the idiotic characters very likeable. The film owes a lot to the Coen Brothers' classic Fargo, as a group of people make ridiculous decisions that lead to pain, conflict and death in a situation so complex that no one has a clue what's really going on. There are some very funny moments, but the filmmakers' real goal is to gross the audience out. And that they do.
Based on a true story from 1983 Melbourne, the film centres on Ray (Angus Sampson), a geeky TV repairman who wins the annual prize in his local football club and suddenly finds himself invited to the cool parties with the team captain, his childhood friend Gavin (Leigh Whannell). The club's president Pat (John Noble) wants Gavin to travel to Bangkok to collect a shipment of heroin, and Gavin talks Ray into doing the job, swallowing 20 heroin-filled pods. When Ray panics on reentering Australia, he's picked up by federal agents Croft and Paris (Hugo Weaving and Ewen Leslie) and held for seven days in a hotel room. But Gavin refuses to move his bowel, confounding them. Meanwhile, Pat is on a rampage trying to find his missing drugs and make sure Ray doesn't spill the beans, as it were.
Yes, this is literally an anal-retentive story, told with bone-dry wit by a group of filmmakers that includes actors Sampson and Whannell (who play ghostbusters Tucker and Specs in the Insidious movies). The film moves at a surprisingly slow pace, never building up much energy but keeping everything luridly trashy as these chucklehead characters flail pointlessly against everything that goes against them. Each person thinks they're in control, but no one is. And only the underused women are truly likeable: Georgina Haig as Ray's sassy-savvy public defender and Noni Hazlehurst as his increasingly frazzled mother.
Continue reading: The Mule Review
After his assuredly traditional The Conjuring, director James Wan bounces back with a more playful horror movie that subverts cliches rather than revelling in them. Like 2011's Chapter 1, this sequel allows Wan and screenwriter Whannell to merrily reinterpret the story with events that take place before, after and even right in the middle of that first film. And they are clearly having a lot of fun in the process, which keeps us both entertained and frightened.
It picks up right where we left off: with their son Dalton (Simpkins) rescued, Josh and Renai (Wilson and Byrne) take their three kids and flee to stay with Josh's mother Lorraine (Hershey). But of course, the ghostly nastiness follows them, and extremely creepy things start happening all over again. Now Lorraine realises that this has something to do with an event from Josh's childhood, so she calls in an old family friend (Coulter) to help. But ace ghostbuster Elise (Shaye) isn't readily available this time, so they have to make due with her always-distracted sidekicks (Whannell and Sampson).
As before, Wan deploys every standard haunted house gimmick in the book, filling the screen with freak-out apparitions, scary noises, slamming doors and screaming babies. He also uses plenty of movie trickery to disorient us, including a jarring musical score and suggestive visuals. Meanwhile, Whannell is digging around in the original movie's plot for things he can play with, redefining events with clever revelations while adding a whole new underlying story to the saga. And the film continually shifts tonally, so we never know what to expect in the next scene.
Continue reading: Insidious: Chapter 2 Review