Insidious The Red Door Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Patrick Wilson
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Ty Simkins, Rose Byrne, Sinclair Daniel, Hiam Abbass, Andrew Astor, Joseph Bishara, Leigh Whannel, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaye, E Roger Mitchell, Dagmara Dominczyk.
Patrick Wilson, who has been a mainstay of the Insidious series created by Australian filmmakers Leigh Whannel and Jaes Wan in 2010 makes his directorial debut with this fifth instalment of the horror franchise. The series has focused on the troubled Lambert family – father Josh (Wilson), mother Renai (Rose Byrne) and son Dalton (Ty Simkins, recently seen in The Whale), and their efforts to prevent evil spirits from harming their comatose son in a mysterious supernatural afterlife realm known as “the Further”.
The film is set some ten years after the events of 2013’s Insidious: Chapter 2. Josh and Renai are separated, not surprising since he tried to kill her and their children, and Dalton’s relationship with his father is prickly. Dalton has just headed off to college but there are some unresolved issues in his tense relationship with Josh. Both have had their memories of “the Further” suppressed through hypnosis but they often feel uneasy.
His art teacher Professor Armagan (Hiam Abbass) encourages her students to ignore their preconceptions about art and instead draw on their own experiences for inspiration. Dalton’s dark thoughts make their way onto his canvas in a series of stark and scary images. Fellow student Chris Winslow (Sinclair Daniel) tries to draw Dalton out of his dark and troubled thoughts. But both Dalton and Josh are troubled by nightmares and their suppressed memories.
Insidious: The Red Door has been written by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, etc) and it deals with troubled and complex father/son relationships, guilt and family trauma, but very little of it is compelling. Wilson is familiar with the series and his handling of the material is uneven and lethargic and lacks any sense of urgency, but he does manage to inject a couple of jump scares into proceedings. A scene involving an MRI machine does briefly introduce some genuine menace. Cinematographer Autumn Eakin (The Invitation, etc) incorporates some dark and disturbing imagery and her subtle use of the colour red in every scene imbues the material with a dark foreboding and unsettling mood. And regular composer Joseph Bishara contributes another ominous and unsettling score.
Wilson has an amiable presence and makes the most of his bemused Josh. Reprising his role from the first two films an older Simkins brings a suitably moody and brooding quality to his performance as the troubled Dalton. Byrne is given little of note to do here, while Lyn Shaye briefly reprises her character of the medium Elise Rainer, who understands dreams and the mystical realm of “the Further”. And Whannel and Angus Sampson briefly pop up as a pair of paranormal investigators who bring a touch of humour to the material.
Insidious: The Red Door serves up a series of horror movie tropes and is ultimately something of an anticlimactic conclusion to the series. Much of this appears repetitive, and is a little dull, and at times I felt myself drifting off into my own astral plane.