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
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
Sometimes, the most terrifying experiences come from childhood games. One such case is that of the Ouija board - a board game designed for communicating with the dead. Debbie (Shelley Hennig) choses to stay in one night and not go out on the town with her friends. While at home, she discovers a mysterious Ouija board in an upstairs room and is later found dead. Her friends decide that, as they miss her, they want to contact her in the afterlife via an Ouija board that they also discover. After making a connection with the afterlife, the friends soon realise that the board is linked to them and bringing them into conflict with an old spectre that seems hell-bent on tormenting them. The Ouija board is not a game for them anymore - it is a newfound level of ultimate terror.
Continue: Ouija Trailer
When hacking geniuses Nic Eastman and Jonah Breck from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) decided to take a road trip during their school break with Nic's girlfriend Haley Peterson, they had no idea they would find themselves fighting for their lives, each other and their sanity. They soon start to realise that they have found a trail from their hacker rival Nomad and decide to follow it for miles and miles, into the isolation of the Nevada desert. Then it begins to dawn on them that they may have made a big mistake as they are brutally attacked by an anonymous assailant. Nic wakes up to find himself locked up in a research lab full of men in biohazard suits and a formidable man named Damon determined to interrogate him about what he saw. It's clear that some unearthly power is leading the people of Earth astray with a strange phenomena known as The Signal.
Continue: The Signal - Clip
Nic Eastman and Jonah Breck are computer hacking college geniuses from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who decide to embark on a long road trip during their school break alongside Nic's girlfriend Haley Peterson. They are soon distracted by a remarkable trail leading to their hacking rival Nomad which they follow determinedly for miles into the isolated Nevada desert. However, once they've arrived there, they find themselves plunged into complete darkness and viciously under attack by an unknown assailant. When Nic wakes up having been unconscious, he is confronted by men in biohazard suits who have locked him up in their research lab, revealing that he is been in contact with something not of this earth. Unaware of what exactly has happened to him, Nic is informed that he has encountered the Signal - a mysterious other worldly force - and must remain in the care of these professionals for subsequent observation.
Continue: The Signal Trailer
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
Renai and Josh Lambert think that their life is back to normal after a horrific paranormal ordeal involving their son Dalton whose gift of astral projection landed him in a coma and possessed by several malevolent forces. However, Josh is now tormented by his own demon after it succeeded in claiming his body when he ventured into 'The Further' to save his child. His wife and child are unaware of his condition at first, but it soon becomes clear that they have to rope in new ghost-busting help to save their family who are far from out of danger yet. They're no strangers to inanimate objects moving of their own accord and ghostly figures wandering around their house, but what they're facing now could be much more sinister than they ever imagined.
Continue: Insidious: Chapter 2 Trailer
The Three Stooges is a comic caper, following the lives of three men who were left on the doorstep of an orphanage when they were babies. This updated version of the 1930s vaudeville act of the same name sees the familiar characters of Larry, Moe and Curly try to save their childhood orphanage from closure. In the process, they become embroiled in a bizarre murder plot, as well as finding themselves somehow starring in a phenomenally successful reality TV show.
Continue: The Three Stooges Trailer
Josh and Renai (Wilson and Byrne) have just moved into their new home when strange things start happening. They can explain away bizarre sounds and eerie events, but doctors are baffled when their son Dalton (Simpkins) inexplicably lapses into a perpetual coma. Soon the noises and visions so freak out Renai that she begs Josh to move again. But things get even more terrifying in the new house. So Josh's understanding mother (Hershey) suggests they contact a team of ghostbusters (Shay, Whannell and Sampson), as crazy as that sounds.
Continue reading: Insidious Review
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