Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, frightening images and mature themes
Lin Shaye Reprises Role As Psychic In Scary Prequel Guaranteed To Have You Jumping Out of Your Skin
The good news about Insidious 3 is that you don’t have to be cognizant of the developments in the first two episodes to follow this one’s plotline. That’s because it’s a stand-alone prequel which doesn’t revolve around the Lamberts, the family haunted by ghosts in the franchise’s previous installments.
The best news of all is that, despite being rated only PG-13, this harrowing adventure was still scary enough to teach me that I can scream louder than my wife! Guaranteed to have you jumping out of your skin, Insidious 3 is a cinematic throwback evocative of that earlier era when horror flick filmmakers cared more about subtly sowing the seeds of suspense instead of simply splattering the screen with gruesome slasher fare.
The movie marks the impressive directorial debut of Australian Leigh Whannell who both wrote and acted in Insidious 1 and 2. The film again features Lin Shaye (There’s Something About Mary) as Elise Rainier, the gifted psychic with an uncanny ability to commune with the afterlife.
As the film unfolds, we find the inconsolable Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) trying to hire the cloistered clairvoyant for help in communicating with the spirit of her late mother (Ele Keats). Elise declines the offer, explaining that she’s retired, but gives the grieving teen an ominous piece of advice, namely, “Don’t try to contact your mom on your own.”
Quinn returns home to the mythical town of Leland Park where she lives in an apartment with her father (Dermot Mulroney) and little brother, Alex (Tate Berney). Of course, she disregards Elise’s warning, and next thing you know paranormal activity ensues, a waving apparition, here, a disembodied voice, there, an unexplained crack in the ceiling, bloody footprints on the floor, and so on.
Quinn’s distracted dad proves to be worthless, since he can’t even remember that she’s a vegetarian when making a meal. At least the cute boy next-door (Ashton Moio) seems concerned about her welfare. Nevertheless, ghostly activities escalate to the point where Elise finally agrees to get involved and stage a showdown of a séance.
Sure the storyline might read like stock fright fare but, trust me, Insidious 3 is one of those expertly-edited horror flicks that repeatedly shocks you when least expected. Again and again, it makes you jump from your seat, then lulls you back into a false sense of security only to deliver another jolt.
A chilling spine-tingler certain to elicit lots of bloodcurdling screams!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 97 minutes
20th Century Fox
Rated R for sexuality, brief nudity, violence and pervasive profanity
Melissa McCarthy Stars As CIA Analyst-Turned-Spy In Fish-Out-Of-Water Comedy
For the past three years, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has been stuck sitting behind a desk as an analyst at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In that capacity, she’s been providing technical support from afar to Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a veteran spy who has successfully handled a series of dangerous missions over the course of a decorated career. Serving as his eyes and ears via hidden cameras and listening devices, the 40-year-old spinster’s been quite content to live vicariously through her dashing colleague, especially given the big crush she has on him.
Everything changes the day he’s murdered while attempting to secure a suitcase bomb about to fall into the wrong hands. Susan subsequently pressures her reluctant boss (Allison Janney) to be allowed to replace her late partner in the search for the assassin as well as the rogue nuclear device.
Elaine is understandably reluctant, since this would be the plump pencil pusher’s very first field assignment. Nonetheless, she grudgingly gives Susan a new identity (“Carol Jenkins”), before issuing strict orders about keeping a low profile and about observing but never confronting any of the bad guys she encounters overseas.
Needless to say, the rules of engagement are out the window just as soon as Susan’s plane lands in Paris. She blows her matronly tourist cover by coming to the assistance of a fellow agent (Jason Statham) unaware that he’s in imminent peril. Between the loose-lipped loudmouth’s need for attention and her appetite whetted for more action, there’s little hope of getting the subtle surveillance genie back in the bottle.
Thus unfolds Spy, the latest collaboration between Melissa McCarthy and writer/director Paul Feig. This film pales in comparison to either Bridesmaids (2011) or The Heat (2013), perhaps because, here, Melissa has been asked to carry the comedy load alone. In Bridesmaids, she shared those duties with a talented ensemble; and in The Heat, her pairing with Sandra Bullock worked to perfection.
By contrast, this picture definitely has its moments, yet one tires of the tendency to rely on Melissa to generate laughs by way of her trademark trash-talk. Those vulgar comments were funny when delivered as unexpected asides in Bridesmaids. Now, they sort of fall flat when exposed as the only material a one-trick pony might have to offer.
A Melissa McCarthy vehicle recommended for fans with a big appetite for her crude, expletive-laced brand of humor.
Good (2 stars)
In English, French, Italian and German with subtitles
Running time: 120 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 12, 2015
Jurassic World (PG-13 for peril and intense violence) Fourth installment in the sci-fi franchise, set on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, revolving around test tube dinosaurs run amok during the grand opening of a dino-themed amusement park. Ensemble includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong and Omar Sy.
The 11th Hour (Unrated) Psychological drama about a successful businesswoman (Kim Basinger) who resorts to desperate measures to become a mother after being informed by her doctor that she’s barren. Supporting cast includes Jordan Prentice, Sebastian Schipper and Peter Stormare.
Madame Bovary (R for nudity and sexuality) Mia Wasikowska stars in the title role in the sixth big-screen adaptation of the Gustave Flaubert classic about the ambitious wife of a country doctor (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) who starts sleeping around in order to enhance her social status. Featuring Ezra Miller, Rhys Ifans and Paul Giamatti. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, drug use and mature themes) Coming-of-age drama based on the Jesse Andrews novel of the same name about a couple of amateur filmmakers (Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler) who decide to make a movie for a high school classmate diagnosed with leukemia (Olivia Cooke). With Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Bobb’e J. Thompson and Chelsea Zhang.
Redeemer (Unrated) Gritty tale of redemption, set in Chile, revolving around a guilt-ridden hit man (Marko Zaror) who morphs into a crime-fighting vigilante to make amends for his sins. Featuring Noah Segan, Loreto Aravena and Otilio Castro. (In Spanish with subtitles)
Set Fire To The Stars (Unrated) Historical drama, set in the ’50s, about an aspiring poet (Elijah Wood) whose world is turned upside-down during a wild weekend retreat spent in the company of his hero, Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones). With Kelly Reilly, Steven Mackintosh and Shirley Henderson.
Soaked In Bleach (Unrated) Conspiracy theory drama revisiting the events surrounding the supposed suicide of Kurt Cobain (Tyler Bryan) from the point-of-view of the private eye (Daniel Roebuck) hired by his widow (Sarah Scott) to investigate his untimely death. Featuring August Emerson, Alyssa Suede and Kurt Loder.
Vendetta (R for profanity and graphic violence) Crime thriller about a hard-nosed detective (Dean Cain) who deliberately gets arrested in order to be able to avenge the murder of his wife. With Michael Eklund, Kyra Zagorsky and Paul Wight.
The Wolfpack (R for profanity) Dysfunctional family documentary about seven home-schooled siblings, aged 11 to 18, screwed up by parents who raised them on welfare in a modest apartment in lower Manhattan where they were denied any contact with the outside world.
The Yes Men Are Revolting (Unrated) Subversive documentary featuring another round of hijinks by merry pranksters Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum as they infiltrate corporations in order to shed light on greed and environmental abuse.