“The Further” is a place where the tortured souls of the dead wait for an opportunity to return to our world. This makes for some spooky stuff: Hauntings. Possessions. Exorcisms. Trips to The Further to retrieve endangered loved ones. This concept made 2010’s “Insidious” one of the better low-budget haunted house films of late. By 2013’s “Insidious Chapter 2,” though, the franchise had already stretched the idea to a breaking point.
“Insidious Chapter 3, ” a prequel set just a few years before 2010, stretches the premise straight into Dullsville.
The threequel’s biggest mistake is an inexplicable diminishing of the stakes. The first two installments put an entire family in harm’s way — a family we liked and rooted for. The only haunting victim in “Chapter 3” is a pretty, artistic, slightly-spoiled, vegan highschool girl. This effectively turns what was a fairly unique, grown-up horror franchise into just another low-budget horror entry featuring a pretty, artistic, slightly-spoiled, vegan highschool girl.
Quinn (Stefanie Scott) lost her mother prematurely to cancer. Because her workaday dad (a wasted Dermot Mulroney) is too busy dealing with his own grief, Quinn has tried to contact her departed mother, which has left her vulnerable to the residents of The Further.
There was never a single moment when I believed Quinn or anyone else was in any real jeopardy. That delicious sense of dread was nowhere to be found, which made for an episodic experience, that, for all the wrong reasons, I just wanted to end.
There are a few jump scares, just nowhere near enough to make up for the lulls, and all kinds of poorly written dialogue. Depending on how familiar you are with parts 1 and 2, you might appreciate how certain plot elements, especially the foreshadowing of a major character’s death, are made to fit into the trilogy as a whole. It might be interesting to watch the trilogy in chronological order, though I’m not sure sitting through this stinker again is worth it.
“Chapter 3’s” final scare, though is a doozy. Almost enough to fool you into thinking you just saw a good horror movie.
Full disclosure: The 20 or so teenagers I shared last night’s screening with were scared to death.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC