Insidious: Chapter 3

Screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who created the Saw franchise with director James Wan, makes his own directorial debut with this third installment of the family-friendly Insidious franchise. The title notwithstanding, it takes place prior to the events of the first film, showing how the ghost hunter played by Lin Shaye first encounters the goofy paranormal investigators played by Whannell and Angus Sampson. I prefer this to anything Wan has directed; unlike him, Whannell is capable of more than one emotional register per scene and doesn’t beat you over the head with every stylistic flourish. The quiet stretches actually serve their purpose here, creating a sense of intimacy with the characters as opposed to simply marking time between the shocks. With Dermot Mulroney.