An Interview with Leigh Whannell and the Cast of ‘Insidious Chapter 3’

Jason McDonald

Over the weekend Blumhouse Productions showed up in force for Wondercon to give fans a sneak peek at a few of their upcoming horror films.  After all the footage was shown and the bows were taken, I got to head backstage and interview the cast and crew of “Insidious Chapter 3” regarding the upcoming prequel.

“Insidious Chapter 3” reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

The first person I got to chat with was Stefanie Scott, who plays main character Quinn Brenner, and we talked about what it was like to work with Leigh Whannell as a director and an actor.  Previously, Leigh had served as a writer on the “Insidious” films while also having a bit part as a paranormal investigator named Specs.  Now that James Wan is moving off the project as director, Leigh is stepping into the director’s chair.  With the added responsibility, it seems that Leigh had to cut down on Specs’ screen time. Here’s what Scott had to say about Whannell’s revisions:

He started re-writing the script so he wouldn’t be in it so he could be off camera.  He would give all his lines to Angus.  I know there were times where, for continuity, he would shoot a scene and it’d be a really great take, but then he’d ruin the take because he forgot his glasses.  And he’d be so pissed because now we’ve lost half an hour and he’d be saying ‘I can’t believe I forgot my glasses!’ He’d get really mad at himself.

Obviously we had to find out from the man himself if it was true that he was cutting back on Specs’ presence.  Here’s what Leigh had to say about Specs’ involvement in the film and how he balanced directing with acting.

I kind of did.  I definitely think that Specs and Tucker are great supporting characters.  To use a lame cooking analogy, you just want a hint of that chili. If you dump it in, it just ruins the dish. I really that a little bit of Specs and Tucker goes a long way, because these films aren’t horror comedies.  They’re horror films. But we do love these quirky characters  and so I felt like the tight rope I was walking was to have them there just enough to do their thing without tipping the balance of the movie and making it whacky.

It is really hard to act and direct something.  Like, I’d be in a scene acting, but I wouldn’t be concentrating on the lines.  My inner monologue would just be like ‘You gotta change that, change that jacket, don’t cross your hands, fix that light.  So if you watch this film and see me acting, just know that my inner monologue was all over the place.

Specs and Tucker Insidious

Probably the most daunting aspect of taking on these films is following in the footsteps of James Wan.  With the massive success of the “Insidious” films and James’ other projects, it seems like there’s a certain amount of expectation riding on this new film.  Leigh talked about how he handled stepping into Wan’s shoes and how he thinks his film will stand in comparison to the previous “Insidious” installments.

I didn’t try and top the first two film as I tried to equal them, because I think that James is such a master of modern horror and I really think he’s the best modern horror film director. And when I saw “The Conjuring”, which I didn’t write that film and I had nothing to do with it, I really got to watch that film as a viewer.  It’s the only James Wan film, aside from “Furious 7”, that i’ve been able to sit and watch the way you guys watch it.  And “The Conjuring” scared the shit out of me.

When I’m watching “Insidious” i’m not scared, I’m just thinking ‘Oh yeah, I was there for that.’  And when I was watching “Conjuring”, it was crazy.  And so, it’s like learning to direct thrillers from Hitchcock.  I really think he’s a master of putting these scenes together.  So I felt like it was a really big set of shoes to fill.  So I just tried to equal the other films.  And I think, from what we’ve heard, it really does equal the first film in terms of those shocks.

Insidious Chapter 3 BTS Photo

Actress Lin Shaye, who plays psychic medium Elsie in the film, offered her take on how she thinks the film will stand out from previous entries.  She believes that the film will resonant with people in a more realistic way as the scares in the film are based on concepts people can relate too.

I also feel, with all due respect to what we did with the first two because I think they’re both masterful, there’s a different kind of horror in this film.  There’s still the traditional kind of scares and the builds to scares, which is correct for this kind of film, but I think it deals with this theme of human loss in a way that makes the demon (The Man Who Can’t Breathe) a recognizable figure.  Leigh talks about him being the embodiment of cancer and I gotta say, unfortunately, it gives me chills because there’s some reality to who this demon is.

It’s not a Red Faced Demon. It’s not a Lipstick Demon. It’s not like some guy with hooves.  It’s some real person who has been in a hospital bed who looks horrible.  And I think those elements, on some level, make it scarier in a different kind of way.

If you’ve seen “Insidious Chapter 2”, you know that the film ends with a little teaser about what Elise and her crew might be up too next.  However, “Insidious Chapter 3” takes a different route and leaves that thread dangling for now.  Does Leigh Whannell plan to revisit that idea?  Warning, spoilers for “Insidious Chapter 2.”

It could be explored in the future.  I kind of never the liked the idea of the film being about Lin (Elise) as a ghost.  It could’ve gotten a bit silly if it’s just Specs and Tucker going ‘I think she’s here with us.’  And we have her behind us.  I like the idea of going back in time, cause I wanted Lin’s character to be alive.  And that’s what we did. I think a lot of people go ‘Prequel?! But I want to find out what happened at the end of the second film!’ And I really think that desire to find out about the second film goes away, because when you watch the film it just sucks you into this whole new universe.  And that’s been our experience testing the film.

Thanks again to the cast and crew for taking the time to talk with us.  “Insidious Chapter 3” hits theaters on June 5, 2015.


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