Insidious: The Red Door

The Once Scary Insidious Franchise Lost Its Lustre Long Before Patrick Wilson Made His Directorial Debut With This Fifth Chapter

Insidious: The Red Door

Release Date: July 7, 2023
Runtime: 01:47
The Lamberts must go deeper into The Further than ever before to put their demons to rest once and for all.
This entry is part [part not set] of 16 in the series Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast
Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast
Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast

The Lambert Family returns to travel into The Further once more in Insidious: The Red Door. It has been a decade since Josh Lambert () and his son Dalton () was hypnotized to forget their ability to astral project into the supernatural realm known as The Further. Josh is now divorced from his wife Renai () and has a somewhat estranged relationship with Dalton.

Dalton goes away to college and is encouraged by his art teacher Professor Armagan () to dig down for inspiration. This causes Dalton to paint a red door, which is followed by a resurgence of his astral projecting abilities. As Josh begins to experience a similar resurgence, a familiar threat reemerges to target Dalton.

Insidious: The Red Door Synopsis

Insidious: The Red Door is the fifth film of the supernatural horror franchise and the directorial debut for star Patrick Wilson, with the original creative team of James Wan and Leigh Whannell returning as producers, with the screenplay written by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, Firestarter), based on a story by Whannell. With the third and fourth films having been prequels focused on the character of Elise Rainier (), Insidious: The Red Door returns to the protagonists of the first two films.

Beginning 9 years after the events of Insidious: Chapter 2, Josh Lambert is dealing with the grief from the recent death of his mother and is inflicted with a foggy memory as a result of being hypnotized to forget the previous supernatural events, which included being possessed and attacking his family. Josh tries to repair his relationship with Dalton by driving him to college, though it only serves to drive a further wedge between the two. At college befriends Chris Winslow () and together they try to get to the bottom of the supernatural experiences Dalton has when he regains his ability to astral project.

My Thoughts on Insidious: The Red Door

The original Insidious from 2010 was a creepy supernatural horror film, which helped to solidify the horror careers of the Australian director/screenwriter duo of James Wan and Leigh Whannell (Saw, Dead Silence). As tends to be the case with successful horror films, Insidious ended up being sequeled to death, with Wan returning to direct 2013's Insidious: Chapter 2, Whannell making his directorial debut with 2015's Insidious: Chapter 3, and Adam Robitel directing 2018's Insidious: The Last Key. While I outright skipped the fourth film, I thought that both the second and third films were mediocre follow-ups to the original, which is a trend that continues with Insidious: The Red Door.

On a positive note, it was probably the right decision to make Insidious: The Red Door a direct sequel to the first two films, since the third and fourth films could be described as little more than mythology-building prequel spinoffs. Returning the focus to the Lambert Family, allows the audience to grasp faces that they were familiar with. Probably the most jarring difference is that actor Ty Simpkins is now in his early 20s and Dalton has gone from a haunted child to essentially an emo tortured artist with daddy issues.

Dalton's rediscovery of The Further while in college ends up being the primary focus of Insidious: The Red Door, which includes some relatively unscary supernatural set pieces such as the ghost of a fratboy who projectile vomits into Dalton's face. Dalton and his new friend Chris investigate the former's regained ability to astral project, with the help of YouTube videos by paranormal investigators Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) and their late mentor Elise Rainier. Dalton's trips into The Further attract the attention of the Lipstick Demon (), who wants to finish what it started when Dalton was a child.

It says a lot how another of Insidious: The Red Door‘s key scary scenes, involving Patrick Wilson's Josh experiencing paranormal activity during an MRI, was met with laughs in the cinema I saw the film. Wilson is probably doing his best with his directorial debut, but he is working with material that was already starting to lose its lustre with the second Insidious film a decade ago.

While it's probably safe to say that audiences are not required to watch either Insidious: Chapter 3 or Insidious: The Last Key, a knowledge of the first two films is required to understand what's happening in Insidious: The Red Door. This includes the reason why Josh is seen attacking his family in flashbacks to the second film and why the Lipstick Demon is targeting Dalton while listening to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” It's quite sad how the Lipstick Demon has gone from the source of one of the biggest jump scares from the original Insidious to just a screaming monster in the dark.

While Ty Simpkins and Patrick Wilson are present for the entirety of Insidious: The Red Door, it is interesting to note that Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert has been reduced to a bookending cameo role, appearing during an opening funeral scene and not returning until the third act. This leaves me wondering whether Byrne was reluctant to return to the role or if she was just busy with other projects, such as the Apple TV series Platonic.

Hopefully, Insidious: The Red Door marks the conclusion of this franchise that has long since run its course. While the film did have promise of returning to the original protagonists, any scares this franchise generated have long since dissipated and it is just another cog in the mainstream horror churning machine.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.