Leigh Whannell steps into the role of director for ‘Insidious Chapter 3’

If anyone has a natural claim on the director's seat of an “Insidious” sequel besides James Wan, it would be Leigh Whannell.

Sure enough, the news broke today via Wan's Twitter account that Whannell will indeed step behind the camera for “Insidious: Chapter Three,” marking Whannell's directorial debut. He and Wan have been creative partners since the release of “Saw,” and the last few years, Whannell has been on a hell of a roll in general.

This year, one of the highlights of SXSW for me was the film “The Mule,” which Whannell co-wrote and co-starred in, and his co-writer on that one was Anghus Sampson, who also directed it and who appears in the “Insidious” films as Whannell's paranormal investigation partner. That film is a tremendously entertaining character piece about a worst-case scenario for a first-time drug mule, and it serves as proof to me that Whannell is capable of more than just one genre. Our industry is so aggressive about putting people in boxes that it felt like an important moment for Whannell and Sampson as filmmakers.

But they've invested a good deal of time and energy into developing the “Insidious” franchise and building out the mythology around the story, and the characters that Sampson and Whannell played were, I thought, one of the highlights of the sequel.

Whannell is writing “Insidious 3” as well, and they're aiming for a release date of April 3, 2015. Jason Blum and James Wan will be producing the film, and all we know about the film so far is that they're moving on from telling the story of the Lambert family, played by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne in the first two movies. Seems perfectly reasonable. They've created a world for these films where there are any number of options for them as storytellers, and as long as Whannell and Sampson return as their characters, it seems like they can do pretty much whatever they want.

Whannell's also very good in “Cooties,” the horror-comedy that Lionsgate scooped up at Sundance, and it feels like he's enjoying the best sustained roll of his career. Here's hoping “Insidious Chapter 3” keeps that going.

“Insidious: Chapter 3” will be in theaters worldwide in April of 2015.