One of the more infamous horror franchises of recent times returns to the fore after a fairly lacklustre second outing, on this occasion taking us back in time to before the hauntings of the Lambert family with spirit medium Elise (Lin Shaye) the link between the films, as young Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) seeks her guidance regarding contacting her recently deceased mother. Elise tells her to do one (I’m paraphrasing) as she’s haunted by an evil entity bent on destroying her whenever she enters the spirit world, the same one from the previous films, leaving poor Quinn to her own devices and to making the rookie error of contacting the wrong spirit who, unfortunately, decides to try and make her his own little pet in the nether realm. Though, in the spirit’s defence, Quinn does look good enough to eat, so you can’t blame a (dead) guy for trying, right?
Everything has been improved dramatically since the last outing with Leigh Whannell bolstering his screenplay this time around and indeed his appointment as director as well appears to have paid dividends as there are some genuinely scary moments and ideas in there, much like there was in the first one. It’s not as taught throughout as the original was – everything in part one was about turning the screw on the tension in tandem with the story unfolding, here there are multiple moments of ‘hmm, OK just have the dead thing scare the pretty girl and chuck her around the room for a bit, that’ll do’, and most of the support here is pretty lame, but Shaye and Scott do a great job and with more attention given to the story this time the franchise is (ahem) alive and kicking again.