I remember the first time I watched Insidious. I was in my bedroom and it was about midnight. Knowing it was rated PG-13, I didn’t think much of it in terms of scares. However, I couldn’t be more wrong. The film stands as one of the scariest modern horror films and rightfully so. Its ability to delve into the depths of the supernatural while creating a new, unique world within The Further was a welcome change. With the release of Insidious, a franchise was born, consisting of, now, five films in total. And now, the journey has reached its climactic conclusion with the highly anticipated final chapter, INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR.
A direct sequel to 2013’s Insidious: Chapter 2, INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR is set a decade after the second film. Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have divorced, leaving Josh struggling to fill the voids of his life. Dalton (Ty Simpkins), now heading to art school, has a strained relationship with his father. However, everything changes when Dalton starts experiencing inexplicable and horrifying visions that unravel past events. Helped by a newfound friend, Chris Winslow (Sinclair Daniel), Dalton embarks on uncovering his mysterious past, eventually forcing both him and Josh to venture deeper into The Further than ever before.
Consistent scares get butts out of chairs
True to the franchise’s form, and as much as I hate to admit this, the movie had me jumping out of my seat at least three times. As lovers of the horror genre, we are accustomed to the familiar beats that lead up to a scare. Even though we may anticipate them, they still manage to sometimes catch us off guard. In his directorial debut, Patrick Wilson skillfully builds tension and delivers well-time scares. I wish I could provide some insight into what to watch out for, but the first scare shattered my composure – in the best way possible. It got me so good I almost grabbed the arm of the person next to me. Insidious has always risen to the challenge of crawling under the viewer’s skin, and this film is no exception.
Upon revisiting the first two films, I was pleased to find that INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR maintained the same level of consistency. While it bummed me out to witness the deterioration of Josh and Renai’s marriage, it wasn’t all that surprising. There has always been an underlying heaviness between them since the first film.
In regards to Dalton’s relationship with his father, Wilson does a great job of capturing the anger and hurt they feel towards each other and, at times, themselves. All that being said, I couldn’t help but wish for more moments that showcased the family together. Spending more time with Renai and the other two children, who have endured the horrors of the previous films, would have truly rounded out the family’s development as a cohesive unit.
Look & feel of INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR
Visually, INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR maintains the look and feel of the first two films, especially when it came to The Further. Although Autumn Eakin wasn’t involved in the first two films, her cinematography follows the style established by John R. Leonetti. The film consistently evokes a sense of dread through the use of cool-tone colors, atmospheric fog, and unique camera techniques. Additionally, Joseph Bishara returns to execute the unnerving score as well as portraying the infamous Lipstick-Face Demon. Though I personally wanted him to be in more scenes, there is luckily an abundance of apparitions that’ll keep viewers engaged as they haunt Dalton, Josh, and Chris.
Having attended an art school for my Bachelor’s Degree, I was familiar with what that experience is like. The presentation of the school Dalton goes to and the classes he attends are right on the nose. When his art professor, played by Succession’s Hiam Abbass, pushes him to dig deep into his soul for his first drawing assignment, it becomes the catalyst for what’s to come. Seeing Dalton in this environment allows viewers to get a glimpse into who Dalton is and how the experiences of the past have stunted him. Thankfully, when he meets Chris, a fellow college student, she brings in humor and fun to Dalton’s otherwise dark and depressing ways. I’d even go so far as to say that Sinclair Daniel is the breakout star of the film. Sinclair does a tremendous job of bringing the character of Chris to life and infuses natural humor during the more unsettling scenes.
The film’s highlight is the reunion of the entire cast, including a delightful cameo from Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), our beloved ghost hunters. My biggest gripe with the film is that I wished for more screen time with some of the side characters, even if it meant extending the runtime. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this final chapter as it delivered the scares we deserve and allowed fans to bid farewell to these characters we’ve come to love. Now, all that remains is for fans to open the red door and venture one last time into the horrors that await within The Further.
INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR arrives exclusively in movie theaters on July 7th, 2023.
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