Insidious: The Red Door Review

Insidious: The Red Door
Years after the events of the first two Insidious films, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is driven to college by now-divorced dad Josh (Patrick Wilson). But in the wake of a family tragedy, old memories start to resurface until both are again threatened by an entity capable of possession and mayhem.

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on
Release Date:

07 Jul 2023

Original Title:

Insidious: The Red Door

After two prequels, the Insidious series returns to the family where it began, the Lamberts, because no good monster ever stays dead. Franchise star Patrick Wilson turns director here and does as good a job as you’d hope with the character beats of these tortured souls. But he never hits the heights of terror that the franchise is capable of – perhaps his closeness to the character preventing him from really twisting the knife.

Insidious: The Red Door

As we rejoin the Lamberts, we’re reminded that son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and father Josh (Wilson) had their memories wiped nine years ago, so they would never again be tempted to astral-project into “The Further” and leave their bodies vulnerable to possession by dark forces. Now Dalton is an artist just starting at a college with worryingly dim lighting and unreliable power – uh oh.  When he follows a charismatic teacher's instructions to go deep into his subconscious, he discovers memories of a strange door that threaten to destabilise his mental health. Across the country, Josh is experiencing his own nightmares, and will have to delve into his own past to confront this new threat.

While there are a few effective gross-out moments and creeping scares, they’re largely unoriginal.

Wilson picked a franchise he knows well for his directorial debut, and he and Simpkins have a convincingly thorny but loving dynamic, as he does with Rose Byrne as his now-ex-wife Renai. He also finds comic beats to leaven the scares, particularly in some amusingly lame frat party scenes. There he has an ally in Dalton's college friend Chris (Sinclair Daniel), who is a breath of fresh air even if she implausibly sticks around through some outrageously creepy behaviour.

The problem is the choppy storytelling. You’ll need to remember the first two films for any real explanation of the threat here, or how to beat it. Going into the finale, there’s only a woolly sense of what needs to be done and what exactly is tormenting our heroes, which can’t help but puncture the menace. The pace is very much a slow burn, until a sudden rush to the finish, and while there are a few effective gross-out moments and creeping scares, they’re largely unoriginal. Wilson’s debut is no disaster, but he’ll need to sharpen his talons if he wants to make his mark on the horror pantheon behind the camera as well as in front.

Franchise fans will enjoy seeing the Lamberts again, but newcomers will be baffled by the under-developed story and nonplussed by the over-familiar scares.
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