Believe it or not, Insidious released over 12 years ago becoming an instant classic in the supernatural horror genre. Since April 1st 2011, Blumhouse Productions has made three sequels with the most recent, Insidious: The Last Key coming out in early 2018. Perhaps COVID-19 slowed down the next inevitable sequel but the next installment is finally here. After two prequels, the franchise re-visits the Lambert family in Insidious: The Red Door with series star Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) getting behind the camera for the first time. Though the reviews are pretty weak, the latest sequel actually aligns pretty closely with the Tomatometer for the other sequels.
Nine years have passed since Josh Lambert and his son, Dalton, had their memories of The Further suppressed. Now Josh finds himself struggling with the recent death of his mother, his divorce from his wife, and an estranged relationship with Dalton. But Dalton’s first semester college art class triggers the buried memories of his haunted past. As he tries to uncover what happened to him years ago, Dalton opens a doorway that pulls both him and his father back into The Further.
Insidious: The Red Door Has Decent Scares But Lacks Overall Intensity
As a first-time director, Patrick Wilson brings a workmanlike efficiency to Insidious: The Red Door. After starring in both the The Conjuring and Insidious universes, Wilson certainly know a thing or two about what makes a scene scary. And the fourth series sequel boasts a handful of good jump scares. Arguably, the promotional materials tip off the sequel’s best scene – Wilson’s ‘Josh Lambert’ trapped inside an MRI scanner with an unseen demon. Like some of The Red Door’s other effectively creepy moments, Wilson knows how to use all of the screen to tease lurking threats. Another standout scene involves a homemade game of memory on a large window pane that’s crashed by a surprising guest. Of course, the Lipstick-Face Demon will never not be scary and a frat house ghost delivers a few scares.
Like some of The Red Door’s other effectively creepy moments, Wilson knows how to use all of the screen to tease lurking threats.
In spite of a few good scares, Insidious: The Red Door never feels consistently tense. Nor does the Wilson-helmed sequel ever feel urgent. It’s not so much that the supernatural thriller falls apart in its third act. Rather it feels like the third act draws a curtain on what’s just not a necessary sequel. One might even be surprised to realize that the final showdown has even started. What should feel like a sweeping, emotional finale to a multi-film family arc just kind happens. Perhaps the best word to describe the thriller’s climax is perfunctory. Not even a surprise cameo prior to the credits carries the weight one might expect.
Insidious: The Red Door Makes the Most of Its College Setting Courtesy of a New Character and Fun Supporting Performance
The poor Lambert family. After the hauntings they experienced in Insidious and Insidious: Chapter Two, the worst horror to befall them is that most of the family gets the short shrift here. The decision to focus on the father-son dynamic means the other two Lambert siblings barely show up. Even Rose Byrne’s ‘Renai Lambert’ is mostly an afterthought. Instead, Insidious: The Red Door exclusively focuses on the father-son dynamic between Wilson’s ‘Josh Lambert’ and Ty Simpkins’ “Dalton”. Not surprisingly, Wilson is effortlessly compelling in a role that a role should feel like second nature now. And Simpkins makes for a sympathetic protagonist though he’s mostly regulated to brooding.
…the best performance in Insidious: The Red Door comes from series newcomer, Sinclair Daniel…
Arguably, the best performance in Insidious: The Red Door comes from series newcomer, Sinclair Daniel who plays Dalton’s college roommate, Chris. In addition to bringing a fun energy to the sequel that makes up for the lack of Lin Shaye (The Grudge, The Final Wish), Daniel says what everyone watching a horror movie is usually thinking. She’s the only character suggesting that going back into The Further is a bad idea. And her chemistry with Simpkins’ ‘Dalton’ is often better than the one he shares with his on-screen father. If a future installment can’t bring back Shaye, Blumhouse Productions would be well advised to follow Daniel’s character.
Insidious: The Red Door an Occasionally Scary, Mostly Middling Series Finale
No, Insidious: The Red Door isn’t a bad movie. In fact, it’s a perfectly fine, middling effort that maintains at least a baseline of quality for the series. As a director, Wilson knows his way around the camera and engineers a handful of standout scares. But by the time the final act rolls around, it’s pretty clear that this sequel was completely unnecessary. Very little holds those decent scares together, which an oddly listless finale inevitably reveals. Though the final moments don’t undo the good will from the first two movies, they’re not likely to have the intended emotional impact. If nothing else, Insidious: The Red Door is a clear sign that it’s time to close the door on this series.