The Movie Waffler New to VOD - INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR | The Movie Waffler


The Lambert family must return to The Further one more time to confront demons, both old and new.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Patrick Wilson

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Lin Shaye, Sinclair Daniel, Hiam Abbass

Insidious: The Red Door poster

You have to wonder if James Wan regularly kicks himself for having cast Patrick Wilson in both Insidious and The Conjuring. Not that Wilson isn't a good actor (he's too good for both of these franchises, if you ask me), but casting him in the opening instalments of both series instantly erased the potential for a crossover, which surely would have happened by now. Both series are arguably too stale at this point but if say, six or seven years ago Wan had teamed up Insidious's ghost-hunters Elise, Specs and Tucker with The Conjuring's Warrens (obligatory comment about how that series has somewhat rehabilitated a pair of real life con artists), it would have packed out cinemas.

While The Conjuring has kept itself relevant by spawning a seemingly never-ending assortment of spin-offs, the gears of the Insidious series can be heard grinding to a halt with this fifth instalment. Insidious: The Red Door joins the likes of Halloween 5, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and 2022's annoyingly titled Scream in becoming the disc in the boxset horror fans are least likely to reach for on future series' rewatches.

Insidious: The Red Door review

Having become the face of the "Waniverse," Wilson now gets the chance to direct. While he doesn't disgrace himself behind the camera, there's a naivete in his direction that suggests horror may not be the most fitting genre should he pursue a career wielding the megaphone.

The Red Door opens with a recap of the conclusion of the second film (parts three and four were prequels that took place before the first movie), in which Josh Lambert (Wilson) and his young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) were hypnotised so they wouldn't be haunted by the memories of the supernatural terrors visited upon them in the first two movies.

A decade later, all is not well with the Lambert family. Josh's mother has just died (for a woman as good looking as Barbara Hershey, her funeral is awfully sparsely attended; surely there would be a host of aging male admirers hiding behind trees?); he's several years into a divorce from his wife Renai (Rose Byrne); and the now college bound Dalton refuses to speak to him, making for an uncomfortable car ride to his new school.

Insidious: The Red Door review

Once on campus, Dalton's memories of the terror he experienced as a kid begin to slowly flood back. Triggered by his aggressive art teacher (Hiam Abbass), he begins to paint a picture of a red door, but can't make sense of what it means. Meanwhile Josh is similarly beginning to realise that something is buried in his mind, leading to father and son inevitably returning to "The Further" once more.

I complain a lot about how so many modern horror movies and thrillers fail to build suspense because they don't give the audience more information than the protagonists. By default, The Red Door should be suspenseful from the off. We know a lot more than Josh and Dalton because we witnessed the events of the first two movies whereas they've both had their memories erased. But Wilson and screenwriter Scott Teems never make much of this advantage they've been gifted. Wilson does put together some mildly unsettling moments in which shadowy and out of focus figures approach in the background, but they lack the sort of payoff a more comfortable genre director might deliver.

Insidious: The Red Door review

Rather than exploiting our knowledge of this world to create suspense, The Red Door too often makes us sit through what feels like a retread of the first movie, right down to another boring climax in The Further. A problem I've had with this series from the off is that its threat is too metaphysical to be relatably scary. A bloke chasing you with a big knife is tangibly terrifying, but it's never quite clear what threat the spectral baddies of this series really pose. The series' reluctance to kill off characters of note doesn't help, and the one major character it did kill off, Lin Shaye's Elise, is sorely missed here, though she does pop up briefly via a YouTube clip. Shaye brought some heart to an otherwise vacuous series, and it was refreshing to see a horror movie in which the heroine was a woman in her seventies rather than the usual fresh-faced twentysomethings.

Early on, Wilson gives himself some dramatic scenes that remind us of the potential he arguably squandered by devoting so much of his career to a pair of mediocre horror franchises. This may well represent his departure from the Waniverse (though I wouldn't put money on it), and I for one look forward to seeing if he can live up to the potential he displayed in early roles like Hard Candy and Little Children.

Insidious: The Red Door is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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