Insidious: The Red Door Review – Fast Food Horror that Satisfies

A good jump scare is like a cheap cheeseburger: the hungrier you are, the better it is. That’s true of the scares in Insidious: The Red Door. However, the fifth entry in this ongoing series is more than a cheap cheeseburger; it’s one of those nice cheeseburgers that you get at a proper burger place, it tastes better, and you can tell there was care put into making it. Continuing the analogy, Insidious: The Red Door serves a plate full of satisfying scares, without any greasy gore, or cheesy characters, and it makes for a filling meal.

After the Lambert family beat back the grim entities in Insidious: Chapter 2, they erased their memories of the horror through hypnosis. It’s been nine years since then, and their memory gaps have caused rifts in the family. The father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), has become estranged, and his memory has grown foggy, meaning he’s lost memories, especially about his oldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who’s leaving for art college. After Dalton delves deep for an art project, he reawakens old powers, and the entities begin to attack. Soon, Josh, Dalton, and Dalton’s roommate Chris (Sinclair Daniel) must uncover their past, and venture into the horrid underworld of The Further to protect their family and sanity.

Despite being the fifth film in the series, The Red Door works surprisingly well on its own. Sure, fans will enjoy seeing the return of the family (and the creatures), but newcomers get to uncover the mystery of The Further and the Lamberts’ past alongside the characters. The family drama between Dalton and his dad hits its marks and manages to pull you in for a couple good scares. Convincing acting isn’t a given when it comes to horror flicks, but it helps ratchets up the tension when it’s there. The addition of Dalton’s roommate, Chris, could’ve been an out of place comedic sidekick, but Sinclair Daniel is charming and natural, allowing her jokes to balance the tension without deflating the horror atmosphere. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are seasoned horror veterans, giving great performances after having become comfortable with these characters, but the now-grown Ty Simpkins makes for a strong lead.

Behind the scenes, first-time director Patrick Wilson impresses, with some clever shot parallels, a nice dolly zoom, and good use of colour and lighting (when the lighting turns blue, you tense up because you know you’ve entered The Further). The added budget also takes the story’s scale and drama up a step, though it doesn’t quite manage the same level of iconic scares as the first film.

In general, Insidious: The Red Door is a solid addition to the franchise, and time will tell if it stands as one of the best. It’s not going to leave you in a cold sweat, or have you covering your eyes, but that’s probably what you want from a horror movie like this: Some jump scares, some mysterious events and close encounters, and an ending that puts a nice bow on the Lamberts’ story. It’s a nice cheeseburger of a movie.

Director: Patrick Wilson

Cast: Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne

Writer: Scott Teems, (based on a story by and characters created by Leigh Whannell)

Branden Zavaleta

Branden Zavaleta is a Perth-based film critic. He loves movies that charm, surprise or share secrets. Some little known favourites of his are Ishii's The Taste of Tea, Barboni's They Call Me Trinity, and Kieslowski's Camera Buff.

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