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What’s Inside ‘Insidious: The Red Door”

“Insidious: The Red Door” (Courtesy of Sony Pictures)


If you were to ask a horror fan what the most iconic horror franchises of all time were, they might say “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th,” but it’s unlikely you’ll hear “Insidious,” despite its 13-year history. The original was released in 2010 and directed by well-known filmmaker James Wan as somewhat of a modern twist on the horror classic “Poltergeist.” It followed the Lambert family as they try to save their son from a realm of the dead named “The Further” filled with monstrous demons. The movie was a hit and was followed by four sequels, the third and fourth leaving the story of the Lamberts. The newest installment, “Insidious: The Red Door” returns to the Lambert family in an attempt to reclaim public interest after the diminishing returns of the fourth film.

In “Insidious: The Red Door,” the Lamberts must once again face the terrors of “The Further” to sew their family back together — returning to the evil they tried to forget.

Nothing Great Behind This Door

When I initially saw the first two “Insidious” films as a teenager, I thought they were fantastic but on a recent rewatch I found them to be disappointing. While Wan crafted a genuinely interesting and scary world in “The Further,” I couldn’t help but notice the obviously limited budget and excess of cheap jumpscares. That being said, I was excited to see “The Red Door,” as I found the family element of the originals to be one of the strongest aspects. Unfortunately, the family element lacks in the new flick as each member is divided into their own setting. The son, Dalton, spends most of his time at a liberal arts school, leading to some of the worst “old person writes for young people” dialogue I’ve ever heard. There’s nothing worse than seeing a cringe-worthy depiction of the college experience while being in college. 

The father, Josh, spends his time doing “brain tests” and researching his father’s history of mental illness, a plot that has never been introduced until now. I found this strange, as I expected this movie to build the lore of  “The Further” and explain the history of the demons. Instead, it spends most of its time recapping the first two films and using this father storyline to create a thin message about generational mental health problems. I appreciate the attempt at having a theme but in the end, but not much is actually commented on and what is said feels forced and awkward. 

The movie also fails in the scare department. Despite being a horror film, nothing frightening happens until at least 30 minutes into the movie. From then on, it’s a mishmash of over-the-top, loud monsters jumping at the camera and well-built-up moments of tension that eventually end up as deafening spikes of noise like all the rest. By the finale of the film, I had become desensitized by the booming scares and found myself staring blankly at what was ultimately a very underwhelming final confrontation between the Lambert family and the demons of the “The Further.”

Horror Actor to Horror Director

The main headline for most news outlets discussing “The Red Door” was how its main star Patrick Wilson was also in the director’s seat for the first time. I love Wilson and am always made happier by his appearance in a film, and I have to say I found his directing to be the best aspect of the movie. While he still falls victim to boring “shot/reverse shot” conversations, there’s thought to many of the camera movements and how scenes are blocked to create a spooky atmosphere.

“Insidious: The Red Door” is just as notable as its mediocre sequel predecessors, despite the returning cast from the original. Wilson’s occasionally creative directing isn’t enough to save the film from feeling like just another cookie-cutter jumpscare-fest. If you have even the slightest interest in giving it a watch, I would suggest waiting until it hits streaming platforms.


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About the Contributor
Graham Jones, Arts Writer, Audio Producer
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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