Insidious 3 is the furthest removed from the series on a narrative level. It seems that after the second iteration the filmmakers decided to shake things up. We have a new family that is experiencing the haunts. Also, this one takes place before the events of Insidious.
I have a bit of a hard time with prequels. Logically, the haunting should be less terrifying or whatever because the first film should be the worst thing ever—ghost or demon wise. This might be more of a personal preference, but prequels indicate that there is a shortcoming creatively in some regard.
This time around we follow teenage Quinn (Stefanie Scott), who is a predictably annoying teenager. She has a strained relationship with her father (Dermont Mulroney). The plot is so predictable and familiar that there is no surprise. Single fathers have to be presented as dense in American films it seems, and this movie does little to undermine that trope.
Quinn is injured in a car crash and finds herself bedridden and haunted. Why this particular spirit haunts her is more or less explained in a fleeting “because you tried to talk to your dead mom.” The linkage between victim and haunting is incredibly thin, and the possession of Quinn goes against the lore the first two films established.
Quinn reaches out to Elise, who doesn’t want to help for dumb plot reasons, and the story plods along. Do we really think Elise won’t help? Do the screenwriters think we have the intelligence of baby cows? The world will never know the answer to these important questions.
The plot also falls into a trap that a lot of prequels tend to find themselves in. The film seems to want to be an origins story for Elise (granted, this seems to be what Insidious: Chapter 4 is going to be about, too), but it also wants to be an origin story for Carl, Specs, and Tucker. There is no reason to include every character from the franchise in a prequel other than fan service.
Insidious 3 lacks any substantial scares, characters, or anything resembling a point. The whole thing feels more like fanfiction than any sort of actual addition to the world. Like the elderly shambling corpse in the movie, this movie leaves a lot to be desired. 2/10