There is an underlying sentiment these days that sequels to major motion picture franchises are little more than cash cows looked upon as a means for a studio to squeeze out as much revenue from a property before abandoning it altogether and moving onto the next one.

Obviously, this means of work shows little interest in the product itself, looking to on some level reproduce what made it successful initially with as little effort as possible.

Unfortunately for the actors who put themselves on the line, "Insidious: Chapter 3," the supposed prequel to the first two films in the franchise (which makes you really wonder about the lazy title), is the definition of a sequel that was thrown together without care for the eventual end product.

Viewers of this film and its predecessors will likely come away wondering how this is even a prequel with the connections between the films centering on Elise Rainier's "back story," which is really not all that detailed or fleshed out. It is nice to have the veteran actress center stage, but her story is far from being as engaging as the ever-evolving Lambert family saga explored in the first two films.

Her character aside, this is basically another supernatural horror movie with a demon looking to possess other characters -- just like every other film about spirits possessing people on the market these days.

The script, which tells the story of Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) being possessed by an ancient demon when she tries to contact her mother, is as generic as they come, with none of the major characters really facing any development. Quinn's mother's absence seems to have left a massive void in her household that her father (Dermot Mulroney) cannot seem to manage. Quinn herself resenting her father for not wanting to talk about mom and her brother is your stereotypically detached teenage boy whose interest in online videos comes into play at some point in the film's poorly conceived attempt at comedy.

Somewhere in there is Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) who summons the demon and then rejects helping out Quinn because of her fear of death. Then she has a scene in which a friend gives her a motivational speech about using her powers for good, she changes her mind and becomes the hero of the day. The actress does her best with the role, but the reality is that material provides little to make the viewer truly compelled.

Aside from that there are aborted subplots including an undeveloped quasi-romance between Quinn and an underdeveloped teenager that shows up a few times, hints at his interest and then promptly disappears from the plot altogether.

We never really know why the demon is actually after Quinn, aside from the "explanation" that she called out to the dead, making our interest in her safety of minor importance. Wouldn't one assume that there are millions of other people out there calling for their dead loved ones? Why is Quinn more important to the demon than all those other million people? The script doesn't seem to care to answer or even explore its own misshaped logic, so this review will not seek to investigate that point any further.

The film moves from one horror cliché to another with the calculated scares coming as no surprise (we know that monster is hiding under the bed; she won't see it, but the moment she turns around he will be right there). The film's "terror," like most poor efforts in this genre, depends on shock value (and not much of it, quite frankly) with suspense largely ignored or thrown out the window. It is so predictable that even the most uninitiated horror viewer will struggle to feel any sense of dread while watching the movie. There is little here that you haven't seen here before and even the anticlimactic journey through "The Further (a world cast in blue color that otherwise looks rather bland)" feels rather uninspired in its build and follow-through.

Director Leigh Whannell, who wrote this film and its predecessors, gets the tone and pacing wrong throughout, with no greater example of the imbalance than in his return as Specs alongside Angus Sampson's Tucker. Whereas the ghost-busting duo produced some "comic" relief in the other films, they do nothing more than become cringe-inducing with their repeated stupidity in "Chapter 3." The over-exaggerated antics do not pay off at all, making them a sore point in an already boring viewing. Wait until you see how Elise asks them to team up in a scene that feels like it belongs in another movie altogether.

Perhaps the least shocking aspect of "Insidious: Chapter 3" is how poor of a film it ultimately is. True to form, it manages to indulge in every horror cliché in the book, but does not end there. The film also fulfills the stereotype of the artistically bereft sequel, a film so generic and inconsequential that it needs to hide behind a notable brand to have any sort credibility.