While he’s now graduated to directing big budget blockbusters like the DCEU entry Aquaman, James Wan has for many years been primarily known for his work in the horror genre, and for good reason. Wan holds the rare distinction of kicking off three different successful horror franchises, those being Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. Wan can’t take all the credit for those first two series though, as his friend and collaborator Leigh Whannell also played a heavy role in crafting Saw and Insidious into viable ongoing sagas.
Whannell both wrote the screenplay for and co-starred in the original Saw, and also scripted sequels Saw II and Saw III. Whannell has also written all three Insidious entries to date, along with playing the supporting role of geeky paranormal investigator Specs. With 2015’s Insidious: Chapter 3, Whannell even made the move up to the big job, making his directorial debut on the project.
While Whannell won’t be returning to the director’s chair for the upcoming Insidious: Chapter 4, he’ll once again be handling writing duties, and returning to the role of Specs. Also returning for Chapter 4 is actress Lin Shaye, who has become quite the horror icon in the last couple of decades. Shaye’s psychically-endowed character Elise Rainier has been a supporting staple of the Insidious series since the 2011 original, but has gradually moved further and further into the limelight with each passing film. With Chapter 4, Elise seems to have officially become the focal point, judging by recent comments Shaye made to Daily Dead:
“In general, it goes back to Elise’s beginnings. And you also meet Elise at a very different point in her life. It takes place right after the end of Chapter 3, when she walks off with Specs and Tucker and they’re starting their company, Spectral Sightings, and they are now living at her home. They’re like her two sons, her two bad sons [laughs].
So it starts out in a very jovial, happy place and then goes downhill from there [laughs]. And ‘downhill’ meaning ‘uphill,’ though. It’s a fantastic story and it took me back into what made Elise who she is. You meet my family, my mother, my father—we go back to my hometown, which is in New Mexico. And so that’s where this takes place and her quest to find the bad guy that’s been haunting her. It’s a really wonderful story. I think the fans will really, really enjoy it. And it’s scary on levels they’re not going to expect.”
Fans will recall that Insidious: Chapter 3 – which, despite its title, is (somewhat confusingly) a prequel to the first two films – ended with a triumphant Elise deciding to come out of a self-imposed seclusion and go into the paranormal investigating business with Specs and Tucker full-time. Based on what Shaye said above, Chapter 4 will be set right after Chapter 3, and explore both Elise’s personal past and the early days of her partnership with – as Shaye calls them – her “two bad sons.”
While Insidious: Chapter 3 made the usual killing at the box office – earning over $100 million worldwide on a budget of $10 million – many fans considered it easily the least of the series so far. With up and coming horror director Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan) assuming the helm this time out, it’ll be interesting to see if Chapter 4’s Elise-centered tale succeeds in reigniting the Insidious spark.