INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR
July 7 , 2023 / Sony Pictures Canada
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Hiam Abbass, Peter Dager, Sinclair Daniel
Directed By: Patrick Wilson
Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) heads east to drop his son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), off at school. However, Dalton's college dream soon becomes a living nightmare when the repressed demons of his past suddenly return to haunt them both.
Written By Darren
Rating 3.5 out of 5
Insidious: The Red Door has all the hallmarks of the fan favourite horror series, though this one plays out more as a family drama than a full blown horror that is not what audiences will expect from it, but with the great performances of Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins, it is a worthy addition to the series and concluding chapter for the Lambert family… for now.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell are responsible for some of the best modern horror films, both together and on their own, but one of my favourite films of theirs still remains Insidious. Even after multiple viewings, that film still scares me half to death and has me running around my place late at night with the lights on. The first two films in the franchise remain a great two part story, though the two films following them not focused on the Lambert family left me underwhelmed to say the least. But ten years after Insidious: Chapter 2, the fifth film in the series has finally hit the big screen and it brings back the original cast and picks up the story of the Lambert family nine years after the events of the second film. It’s back to basics for the franchise and while the film features the signature moments of terror that made the first two films hits, this film is more of a family drama that just happens to have moments of pure terror woven into the story.
Nine years after Carl cleared Josh and Dalton Lambert’s memories, making them forget that they have the ability to astral project and the existence of the demonic spirits, the ghosts of their past are catching up with Josh and Dalton. Off to university, Dalton is excited to further explore his art, while Josh is trying to mend the strained relationship with his son. But when Dalton awakens his astral projection abilities, it forces him and his father to face their family’s dark past and to venture further into The Further than ever before to stop the dark forces coming after their family once and for all.
There is an expectation walking into an Insidious film that the story will be about an evil entity trying to gain control of one of our main characters. And while the fifth entry in the series does have this familiar storyline, it is not the focus of the film and does not reveal itself until the film’s second half. This time, the focus is the strained father son relationship between Josh and Dalton, and the generational effect astral projection has had on the Lambert family. Playing out as a sentimental character study rather than the nightmare inducing terror fest that the first two films in the series were, the pacing for the first half of the film is rather slow as the characters of Josh and Dalton are explored, highlighting their personal demons and trauma before launching into the horror elements of the film. Once the film hits the second half, there are some truly terrifying moments that conjure up everything you could want from an Insidious film, even if the story at that point plays out as a greatest hits of the series. The story provides what could be a definitive conclusion to the series and the Lambert family’s story, tying up the demons that have chased them over three films in a satisfying way that leans heavily into the themes of family that have been explored over the three films the Lambert family was featured in. Though should the series continue, and I truly hope it does as the Insidious series is one of my favourite modern horror franchises, the story could be furthered and allow for more evil entities from The Further track down the Lambert family or a new cast of characters.
Horror fans will not need to worry, as there are tons of moments of pure terror. There is constantly something lurking in the background in addition to the main set pieces. The memory game on the window with Josh that is teased in the trailer is terrifying, in addition to the MRI sequence, both of which use the long drawn out scare technique. Though in addition to those two scenes, there are tons of moments (especially in the film’s second half) that will have your heart pounding and you holding your breath in fear of what is about to jump out and attack Josh and Dalton. The third act, while rushed and could have benefited from an extra ten minutes to draw out the suspense and terror, is sure to get your blood pumping and audiences jumping in their seats.
Leading the film is Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins as Josh and Dalton, and the two of them give terrific performances. Wilson has always been a dependable actor, tapping into his character’s emotional journey, and he does that perfectly as Josh for a third outing. Confronting the strained relationship with his son while reflecting on his absent father and the lack of any sort of a role model of what a good father is, Wilson brings a tenderness to Josh as he tries to do right by his family and confront the demons that have chased him his entire life, both figuratively and literally. Simpkins has the majority of the screen time as Dalton, and he makes for a commendable lead. He brings a depth to Dalton as he searches for answers about his past, while having a darkness to him which blends into the tone of the film very well. Sinclair Daniel is a standout as Dalton’s college friend Chris, delivering some of the funniest moments of the scene and just being the character you want in every horror film: calling it as it is. While Rose Byrne does return, and I love seeing her in anything as she is such an underrated actress, her role was greatly diminished. After being a pillar of the first two films and helping to create some of their most terrifying moments, Byrne is pushed to the background of this film. Her warmth is a welcomed addition as Renai, though she is given very little to do and I would have loved to see more from her as she truly was a great lead in the first two films.
For his first time directing, Wilson does a great job behind the camera. His handle of the horror moments create a palpable tension that will get your heart racing, while ensuring that the family drama at the center of the story is never lost. He may be working with cliches of the horror genre, but he does a wonderful job executing them. His technical crew follows suit, with some great cinematography capturing the mystery and danger of the story, while Joseph Bishara’s musical score once again will send chills down your spine, even if it more subdued than previous entries in the series to match the more sentimental tone of this film’s story.
While it never comes close to the gold standard set by the original film or the terror-inducing second film, Insidious: The Red Door is a welcomed return to the great horror franchise. Combining heart pounding terror with a sentimentality that provides a nice bookend to the Lambert family’s story, anchored by an impressive directorial debut and lead performance from star Patrick Wilson and a compelling turn by Ty Simpkins, Insidious: The Red Door may not be the horror film audiences are expecting from the Insidious franchise but it is a fitting conclusion for the time being to the series.