A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Insidious: Chapter 3 is a prequel to Insidious (2010) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), with returning stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, and Leigh Whannell. There's tons of spooky stuff -- mainly well-timed jump-scares, plus images of a scary demon attacking a teen girl and a psychic fighting with the same demon. The teen girl is hit by a car and roughed up quite a bit while wearing casts on both legs. Knives are wielded, but only a little blood is shown. Infrequent language includes one use of "f--king," one "bitch," and a few uses of "ass," plus a middle finger gesture. A teen boy has a crush on the teen heroine, but nothing comes of it. There's a joke about two teen girls being lesbians. Like most horror sequels, it's not as good as the original, but it provides enough tingles that it should be a fairly sizable draw for teen horror hounds.
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What's the story?
Set before the events of Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 begins as teen Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) seeks the help of psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Quinn wants to contact her dead mother, but Elise has quit the psychic business, afraid she's gone too far and that she's in danger. Meanwhile, things with Quinn go from bad to worse. She's run over by a car and must now recover with both her legs in casts. Plus, it seems that a malevolent demon is after her. Quinn's father (Dermot Mulroney), at his wits' end, decides to hire paranormal investigators Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell). But with time running out, Elise decides she's actually the only one who can help.
Is it any good?
This time around, screenwriter/actor Whannell assumes the helm of the horror series he helped create; fortunately, he takes several cues from directing predecessor James Wan. He focuses on character interactions, well-defined space, and intriguing use of rhythm and timing, as well as a spooky musical score.
On the downside, like the second movie, Insidious: Chapter 3 doesn't have much new to offer, and virtually all of the scares are of the jump-shock variety, with monsters appearing suddenly -- and frequently shrieking as well. But Whannell at least tries to mix up the timing of the shocks, delaying and subverting the expected. He also creates a very Lynchian version of the Further, with nightmarish imagery that can cause just as many tingles. And his characters are sympathetic and easy to like, with Shaye especially powerful and touching in her role.
Talk to your kids about ...
How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies? Are gory horror movies more or less scary than those with less blood?
How does this movie compare to its predecessors? How does it work as a prequel?
Some of the characters seem obsessed with technology (the main teen girl takes pictures of her breakfast for her blog). Does that seem realistic?
- In theaters: June 5, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2015
- Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye
- Director: Leigh Whannell
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.