There are two types of movie-goers who greatly anticipated the release of “Insidious: The Red Door,” the fifth installment in the Insidious film franchise. First is the avid horror fan who waits eagerly to consume anything and everything new in horror films. The second is the die-hard fan of the Insidious franchise—or anything, really, released by James Wan and Blumhouse. If you fall into the latter category, then this film is one that will likely provide you with all of the nostalgia, plot and scares that you have felt were missing from the franchise since “Insidious: Chapter 2” was released in 2013.
To make sense of the film, it is easiest to separate the Insidious franchise into parts; there is the franchise as a whole, which tells the story of experienced psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) as she fulfills her mission of helping families plagued by otherworldly entities. The second part is a distinct trilogy within the franchise consisting of “Insidious” (2010), “Insidious: Chapter 2” (2013) and finally “Insidious: The Red Door” (2023). This distinct trilogy follows The Lambert Family and the demonic entities that haunt them as a result of the father’s and eldest son’s—Josh and Dalton Lambert, played by Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins—gifts of astral projection. “Insidious: Chapter 3” (2015) and “Insidious: The Last Key” (2018) were great departures from the story of The Lambert Family that fans had grown to love. While these two films did provide some backstory for the beloved Elise, and offered some excellent scares, they felt like a let down in comparison to the first two films of the franchise. Because of this, many Insidious fans were quite anxious to see what the fifth installment had in store. However, when it became clear that “The Red Door” would be a continuation on The Lambert’s original tale—which, in my opinion, was the story that made Insidious so incredible in the first place—hope was restored for many that it would live up to the incredible plot-driven scares of the first two films. When watching the film, the reason for The Lambert’s 10-year hiatus became quite clear and purposeful.
“Insidious: The Red Door” opens on The Lambert Family—the father Josh, eldest son Dalton, mother Renai (Rose Byrne), middle child Foster (Andrew Astor) and youngest child Kali (Juliana Davies)—at the funeral of Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), who played a large role in the first two films. The opening shot also informs us that nine years have passed since the events of the second film. All of the actors from the first two films are the same—except for Kali, who was just an infant in the first two films. Dalton is reading a eulogy for his grandmother and we quickly learn that things have not been idyllic for The Lamberts since we last saw them. Josh and Renai have since divorced and Josh is clearly somewhat estranged from his children, especially Dalton. It is also immediately evident that Josh and Dalton are suffering from the memories of their blurry pasts and forgotten connection to the afterlife, despite the events of the second film in which the family decided to hypnotize Josh and Dalton into forgetting their gift of astral projection and the subsequent horrifying events it caused the family. Although they remember nothing of the events seen in the first two films, the two cannot help but feel a disconnect from the family and a looming air of secrecy. Dalton, who is now preparing to attend college as an art student, finds himself in all too familiar danger as his gifts reemerge while honing his artistic abilities. As a result, the estranged father and son must confront their murky pasts in order to save their family’s future.
Despite the missteps made in the third and fourth films, “Insidious: The Red Door” definitely delivered on everything that fans of the first two films had been hoping for. More than anything else, I think the decision to use the same actors who played The Lambert Family in the first two films was a genius one. If you were already a fan, then that aspect alone will win you over. In addition to this, “The Red Door” offers many plot points that provide closure to some of the franchise’s unanswered questions, as well as terrifying jump-scares rivaling some of the first film’s iconic moments.
Overall, “Insidious: The Red Door” is a must-see for fans of the franchise and horror fans alike, however it is clear that a love of the franchise will influence your opinion of the film. For Insidious fans, it is a nostalgic and effective continuation of the franchise. However, the more casual movie-goer might find it unoriginal or feel that it falls a bit flat. “Insidious: The Red Door” officially premiered in theaters on July 6 and it has not received the best reviews from critics; IMDB rated the film 6/10 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 34%. In my opinion, this should not influence your decision to watch the film. Although, it is clear that the film is targeted towards fans of the franchise, it is still worth the watch—if not for nostalgia, then for the impact that the Insidious franchise has had on the horror genre as a whole.