Insidious: The Red Door

Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell began the Insidious franchise in 2010. The first Insidious featured Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert, Rose Byrne as his wife Renai, Ty Simpkins as their son Dalton and Lin Shaye as the medium Elise Rainier. It concerned a family looking to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further. Insidious: Chapter 2 followed in 2013, Chapter 3 in 2015 and The Last Key in 2018. Now the original cast returns for the final chapter of the Lambert family’s terrifying saga in The Red Door, which sees The Further generate the scares.

Renai and Josh have separated. We don’t know why until much later in the picture. At the start of the film we see that events past have been wiped from Josh and son Dalton’s minds. That was nine years ago and now nightmarish visions are causing problems for both of them. Dalton, a talented but taciturn art student, is about to leave for college. He has a prickly relationship with his father, who acknowledges he hasn’t been the dad he could have been. A blow up when Josh sees Dalton into his dorm room results in acknowledgment from the former than he has to get his head right.

Meanwhile, unexpectedly Dalton ends up sharing a room with a gregarious fellow student, Chris Winslow (Sinclair Daniel), who tries to bring him out of his shell. Dalton’s teacher, Professor Armagan (Hiam Abbass), instructs her students to throw out preconceptions and restraints, and let their experiences lead the way. Dalton’s dark thoughts are transferred onto canvas and scare Winslow, who stands by him. Meanwhile, Josh has equally sinister stirrings when he is in an MRI machine. He has been shaped by the bad experiences with his own father. In both cases (that is Dalton and Josh’s), their suppressed past continues to haunt them, until everything comes to a head.

Insidious: The Red Door deals with family trauma. I enjoyed the set up more than the convoluted imagery that was apparent in the run home. Sure, it was more of a straightforward narrative in the beginning, but there was genuine tension there, which I liked. Then snippets of evil and nastiness begin to surface, those elements appearing like jigsaw pieces that you have to try to make sense of. While that is fine at the time, I was hoping for more cohesive plot development, which I felt was lacking in Scott Teems’ screenplay.

A brooding Ty Simpkins takes the lead in The Red Door and handles that responsibility well, leaving a strong impression.  Patrick Wilson, who also directs this instalment, plays Josh with a sense of bewilderment. I appreciated Sinclair Daniel’s go-getting characterisation as Dalton’s newfound friend and the mind challenging approach adopted by Hiam Abbass as the professor. Rose Byrne and Lin Shaye play relatively perfunctory roles.

While Insidious: The Red Door certainly has some bite, ultimately it wasn’t as satisfying as I would have wanted.

Alex First

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