Formula horror is not much fun. The third Insidious takes us back in time to a boring origin story. We learn, for instance, how Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Wannell, who also wrote and directed this mediocrity) met Elise (Lin Shaye), and first formed their ghostbusting comic relief crew. We find out why Elise is so ambivalent about the tenderhearted demon-chasing career she’s so good at. And, most importantly, we learn that James Wan’s production company is quite happy to churn out the same movie wrapped in different acting skins—it’s a lot less than a cheesy horror franchise at this point.
You could set your watch to the beats of this script. For the billionth time it is “revealed” that when you call out to the specific dead, some bully spirit’s going to turn up instead. We discover again that the problem with entering The Further (the shabby chic spirit realm) is that even with eternity on their hands, the dead just don’t decorate. We really see nothing new, in short, even with a new victim family featuring Dermott Mulroney who seems more preoccupied than terrified when the ghouls come knocking for his daughter’s soul.
These are flush times for horror films, with movies like The Babadook and It Follows breathing real spirit and craft into the genre. Too bad that this franchise wants to make the same old cheap jump-at-you thrills wrapped in thoughtless gimmicks. It’s cynical. No, it’s perfidious.