Insidious: Chapter 3 is 50% of a pretty great horror spook show flick that’s filled with good characters played by appealing actors, moody scenes, and believable and quality dialog. This was easily better than the previous two films. I was so into this flick that I was shocked when it just fell off a cliff. So disappointing… but it doesn’t quite ruin the movie.
The problem is that the movie starts as a moody, creepy flick about a girl who has lost her mother and wants to contact her… only to have things go wrong only in a way that only this kind of spook show supernatural flick can go. It even has a very well-acted opening scene that introduces the girl (the very fresh and appealing Stefanie Scott) and the old lady psychic from the first film. This is a prequel to the events of parts 1 and 2 (important since the old lady dies at the end of part 1).
But when things go south, the movie loses focus on who it’s about. It ceases to be about the girl and becomes the dad’s story (Dermot Mulroney doing good work) for a few minutes and then it becomes the old lady’s movie. Because this movie is so tortuously devoted to being a kind of pilot for an Insidious tv series or ongoing movie franchise that somehow has to exist between whenever this movie takes place and the events of the first flick (which can’t be more than a couple years).
The tonal shifts are just a mess. It starts when the old lady does the whole “we’re going to the other side” bit which is filmed just as cheaply as it was in the first film. But it worked in the first film as a clever way to show something without overdoing the budget and the second film did the same but it did so in a clever way that referenced the events of the first film. In this part 3, it brings the movie to a sudden stop because it feels so different from the previous scenes and the trope is already old.
But on top of that, some of this stuff in the other side comes off as legitimately corny and silly. It’s not intentional but it’s directly attempting to get a rousing “hell yeah!” reaction from the crowd. It didn’t fit.
AND THEN, it introduces the ghost hunter comic relief characters and their humor again counteracts the cool and creepy first half. And the super happy fun time dialog with the old lady as they set up their ghostbusters business really felt stretched and tortured.
So, yeah, this was just a kind of mess. It really felt like one of the better horror flicks that was so much better than the first two flicks. But then it lost the plot. It lost the tone. It stopped being creepy.