Insidious: The Red Door Is a Return to Form for the Franchise

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I went into Insidious: The Red Door with really high hopes. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the last two Insidious films, I loved the first two, and I thought this one had the potential to be a return to form for the franchise. I knew it was going to bring the focus back on the Lamberts, the family from the original Insidious, and I thought the first trailer was really promising (I purposely avoided the second one so I wouldn’t have any more scares spoiled). So naturally, I was super excited to check this film out. I bought a ticket for opening night as soon as I could, and after finally getting the chance to watch it, I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it.

Insidious: The Red Door is the directorial debut of Patrick Wilson, and it also stars Wilson alongside Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Rose Byrne, Hiam Abbass, and Sinclair Daniel. It’s set nine years after the events of the first two Insidious movies, and if you recall, at the end of the second one, Josh and Dalton Lambert had their memories erased.

They can no longer remember their talent for astral projection or any of the problems that practice has caused them, but after Dalton goes away to college, the ghosts of their past come back to haunt them (quite literally!). Dalton and Josh both experience a whole bunch of terrifying supernatural phenomena, so they have to find their way back to the mysterious realm known as the Further and put an end to their spiritual troubles once and for all.

I have to be honest, the plot of Insidious: The Red Door is by no means the film’s strong point. It’s pretty much just the premise, so there’s really not much to it. What’s more, the logic behind all these spooky goings-on doesn’t always hold up to close scrutiny, so don’t go into this movie expecting a top-notch narrative.

A man looking scared
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The film is really just about the characters and the scares, and thankfully, both of those elements shine. Let’s start with the horror. The scares are pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an Insidious film. It has creepy ghosts, eerie settings, and a whole bunch of jump scares, so if you’re not a fan of this kind of horror, you’re probably going to be bored out of your mind.

But if you like that stuff, I think you’re really going to enjoy Insidious: The Red Door. The movie just executes its time-honor tropes really well, so for my money, the lack of originality isn’t a problem at all. In fact, I liked it so much that I hope Patrick Wilson directs another horror movie someday. Sure, he’ll probably want to branch out into other genres after this, but I’d love to see him come back to horror and scare us silly at least one more time.

But as good as the scares are, they’re not the best thing about Insidious: The Red Door. The heart and soul of this film are the characters, and there are three in particular who really stand out. First, we have Josh, the father of the Lambert family. When the movie begins, he’s really down on his luck. His wife left him some time ago, and he’s become distant from all three of his kids, so his life is pretty much in shambles.

And as expected, Patrick Wilson plays the character brilliantly. He was good in the first two Insidious films, but he takes the character to another level in this one. He really makes you feel Josh’s pain, so you can’t help but sympathize with the guy.

A guy walking around in red light
Image provided by Sony

Secondly, there’s Josh’s son Dalton, and he just might be the best character in the movie. He’s a shy, closed-off teenager who still hasn’t entirely come into his own socially, and actor Ty Simpkins is excellent in the role. He absolutely nails the vibe, so I totally believed every word he said and everything he did.

Last but not least, we have Dalton’s friend Christ, the only newcomer who has a substantial role in the story. She and Dalton meet on their first day at their new school, and they have great chemistry together. As I said, Dalton is shy and closed-off, but Chris is the exact opposite. She’s bubbly and outgoing, and their contrasting personalities complement each other perfectly. She quickly became one of my favorite characters in the entire franchise, so if they ever make an Insidious 6, I really hope she’s in it.

Insidious: The Red Door revolves pretty much exclusively around that trio, and the other characters are basically just there to flesh out the world those three live in. In fact, the film is so character-focused that it doesn’t even have much time to deepen the franchise’s mythology the way I’m sure some fans want it to. Like the supporting characters, the Further and all its denizens are really just there to help tell Josh, Dalton, and Chris’ story, so if you’re itching to learn more about, say, the Red-Faced Demon or the titular Red Door, you’re probably going to walk away disappointed.

But if you understand that this movie is primarily about the characters, I think you’re really going to enjoy Insidious: The Red Door. It features a great central trio, it has all the fun scares you expect from an Insidious film, and it brings the Lamberts’ story to a fitting and satisfying conclusion (for now, at least!). Simply put, it’s just about everything I wanted it to be, so if you’re a fan of this franchise, you should definitely check out this latest installment.

Insidious: The Red Door is playing in theaters right now.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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