Five years after the last instalment, the Insidious franchise is back with a direct sequel to Chapter 2; Insidious: The Red Door.
Based on the characters and story by genre veteran Leigh Whannell, Insidious: The Red Door follows the Lambert family 10 years after they last ventured into the alternate dimension known as ‘The Further’. With a screenplay written by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, Firestarter), Insidious: The Red Door marks the directorial debut of the film’s star Patrick Wilson.
A decade has passed since Josh Lambert (Wilson) and his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) had their memories and astral projection abilities suppressed. In that time, Josh’s marriage to wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and his relationship with his kids has all but deteriorated, his mental faculties slipping away year by year, and with Dalton about to start college, it seems that his opportunities to connect with his son are disappearing completely. At the urging of Renai, Josh drives Dalton to his college campus where the pair share a tense and bitter moment, a far cry from how they used to be.
As Josh takes steps to uncover why he hasn’t been himself and Dalton begins his life on campus, both Lambert men find themselves at the centre of bizarre and terrifying events.
One of the best things about Insidious: The Red Door is the fact that it revisits the Lambert family. After two instalments that deviated into prequel territory, the reintroduction of Josh and Dalton is very satisfying, giving their story room to evolve beyond the happy ending audiences were fed at the end of Chapter 2.
Ty Simpkins, who (surprise!) is an adult now, seamlessly slips back into character, giving the once sweet Dalton an appropriately brooding 19-year-old attitude. As the film progresses and Dalton rediscovers his ability to astral project, Simpkins leads Dalton from excitement to fear as he realises that this ability is not as fun or safe as he first thought. With support from his new friend Chris (Sinclair Winslow), who is the perfect comic relief character, Dalton ventures into the deepest recesses of his mind and comes face to face with his demons.
Wilson, who at this point should have a hall of fame portrait for his many horror movie portrayals, is also exploring new territory for his character this time around, transitioning from the loving and sceptical dad of Chapter 1 and the spirit-possessed aggressor in Chapter 2 into a shell of a man, someone struggling to come to terms with how his life has gotten to where it is.
Josh’s memories weren’t the only thing suppressed following the harrowing events of Chapter 2; his personality was also affected and as he takes steps to understand why he begins to question his past, his relationships, and his role in his family’s, especially Dalton’s, life.
Much like its predecessors, Insidious: The Red Door seems to lean as much as it can on practical effects and lighting rather than CGI, which produces some great transitions from the Real World to The Further; it really feels quite seamless in scenes where Josh is quickly thrown from one plane to the next or Dalton explores his college campus.
Against a modest budget, the film still manages to give audiences some quality jump scares and great transitional visuals, plus a delightful cameo from Whannell himself as the bumbling ghostbuster, Specs. Wilson, who is a frequent collaborator of Whanell’s and Insidious Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 director James Wan, starring in all the core films of their other horror franchise The Conjuring, has developed a keen eye for the angles and techniques that makes their films so compelling.
While it certainly doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of Whannell’s or Wan’s directorial work, Wilson was able to adequately replicate their ability to hold focus on frames once the characters leave, building a delicious tension and anticipation of what may come next. Wilson’s handling of misdirection in the scenes involving the spirits of The Further is also brilliantly executed, and he’s able to maintain their impact despite their predictability.
For fans of the Insidious franchise and the world built by Whannell, Insidious: The Red Door is a very solid re-entry. Teems and Wilson together have produced a story that allows audiences to give these much-loved characters a proper send off, completing their arc in a way that feels authentic and satisfying.
Insidious: The Red Door is just as fun as its prequels, offering a great mix of classic jump scares, supernatural spooks, and unnerving camera work that ticks all the boxes genre fans are looking for.