When the first Insidious movie was released in 2010 it quickly became a big hit for James Wan as well as for Blumhouse studios. Now 13 years later we tiptoe through the further one final time with Insidious: The Red Door. Is this the satisfying conclusion that we needed though?
The last two Insidious movies that were released were prequels. so this installment takes place 9 years after the story from part 2. At the end of that film Dalton and his father Josh had their memories suppressed so they could forget all the traumatic freaky things that happened to them. Now, Dalton is off to college and Josh’s memory has been foggy as it seems like something is trying to get through to our world.
The last two Insidious movies, while not critically beloved, did take the franchise in a fresh direction. We had Lin Shaye’s character Elise as the lead, helping solve different supernatural occurrences. It seemed if the franchise was going to continue, this was the best way to do it, so we could continue to have fresh stories. When it was announced though that a new movie was coming out continuing the original story with the original characters, I was surprised. Mostly because it seemed that story was over.
Still, with the original cast returning as well as Patrick Wilson making his directorial debut (as well as guesting on the end-credits song), I ended up becoming curious and optimistic. Maybe there was more that this story had to say. Was there? Yes….but mostly no.
What surprised me the most about this movie is how dramatic it is. This is not a bad thing at all as the movie seems to want to tell a father-son story more than deliver fully on scares. The biggest problem with Insidious: The Red Door is that it has a bunch of interesting ideas that either aren’t fully fleshed out or we just don’t get to spend a lot of time on it.
Years have passed, and the Lambert family is at their lowest point. Josh and his wife are no longer together and the relationship he has with his son Dalton has been strained. There are many themes of this movie of grief, loss, and the unknown. On top of the scares that this movie does produce, the movie also introduces the true fear of memory loss and not knowing if you can trust your own eyes. I really wish the movie dove more into this but it just barely touches the surface.
Patrick Wilson has a very respectable directorial debut as he does a good job combining elements of Wan’s previous films with some unique style of his own. There are plenty of good setups but the problem is that we have seen a lot of these horror tropes before. There isn’t too much new here that makes the film more memorable or helps it stand out. Even the callbacks to the other Insidious films seem more like fun cameos rather than really organic.
The best thing about this movie is the acting. You really care about this family and this father-son relationship and everyone is giving their all. A lot of people are coming to this movie for the scares but I actually found myself wanting to see how we would resolve everything. Take that information however you want to.
Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins are great and I love that instead of casting a different actor altogether, Dalton is played by the same actor. You may have seen Ty in Jurassic World and Iron Man 3 and more recently The Whale. There are a lot of quiet scenes here, especially for a horror film and they definitely are effective. One scene just has Patrick Wilson walking to his car and the emotion that is just on his face is heartbreaking. I honestly didn’t expect for the 5th movie in this franchise to have the best acting.
Another shoutout has to go to Sinclair Daniel who plays Chris. She is Dalton’s college roommate and was a very nice addition. She gives a light-hearted comedic performance and for a character that could have just been a throwaway, she manages to steal almost every scene she is in.
Insidious: The Red Door is another fine installment in the franchise but for a final film, it is severely underwhelming. There is plenty of strong performances and great ideas that are just not executed all the way. If you are a fan of this franchise and these characters you will probably like this movie as you get more of the same. It is just unfortunate that what could have been great and memorable is only just fine.