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Insidious: The Red Door

At least Patrick Wilson still cares about Insidious.” A staple of the James Wan-iverse (he also stars in the “Conjuring” series), Wilson makes his directorial debut with “Insidious: The Red Door.” He also stars in the movie, reprising his role as protective dad Josh Lambert from “Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter Two.” In classic “why the hell not?” deep-franchise style, he also performs a hard-rock number with the Swedish band Ghost over the end credits. (Did you know Patrick Wilson could sing? Neither did I.) 

“The Red Door” is the fifth, and supposedly final, “Insidious” movie. And, with the caveat that you can never trust a horror franchise to end when it says it will end, it does deliver a reasonably satisfying wrap-up to the story of the Lambert family. They’ve been absent from “Insidious” since 2013, when Blumhouse pivoted to focus on Lin Shaye’s motherly psychic character Elise Rainier in a string of prequels. (Although she died in the second one, she appears here, because again—why not?) And much has happened while the series was away. 

Young Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins) has grown from a possessed little boy into a brooding 19-year-old art student beginning his first semester of college. His parents, Josh (Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), have separated. And his grandmother Lorraine, who played a role in saving Dalton from the evil spirits of The Further, has died. Dalton doesn’t remember his trip into The Further, nor does Josh; the film opens with a scene of the two of them being instructed to forget an entire year of their lives by a hypnotist. 

This is accomplished remarkably quickly—if “The Red Door” was an anti-drug PSA, its tagline would be, “Hypnosis: Not even once.” Counting backward from 10 is all it takes to wipe huge chunks of the Lamberts’ minds clean, and those memories resurface just as easily when Dalton is asked to perform a meditation exercise in his painting class. “The Red Door” plays a little with the trope of artists creating possessed or otherwise supernatural works as seen in horror movies like “The Devil’s Candy.” But most of its runtime is spent exploring something less inspired. 

Here, Josh and Dalton’s gift for astral projection isn’t just a mysterious phenomenon. It’s that old saw of inherited trauma and mental illness that’s been wreaking havoc on horror movies since “Hereditary.” This manifests in the form of revelations about the father Josh never knew, which overlap with Josh’s guilt and Dalton’s resentment about the divorce. It’s not the most labored use of the metaphor in recent years—that would be another of co-screenwriter Scott Teems’ credits, the nonsensical “Halloween Kills.” But it’s such a rote theme at this point that it sucks all of the interest from the family drama.

Callbacks to other “Insidious” films are half-hearted, and “The Red Door” seems to give up on trying to make all of the pieces fit after a while. What does work are a handful of scares in the film’s first half. As a director, Wilson proves himself familiar enough with the mechanics of a jump scare—clearly, he picked up a few things from working with Wan all those years—to give audiences what they want. An early scene where Josh hallucinates a ghastly old woman while trapped inside an MRI machine is especially well done and ties in with a subplot where Josh seeks treatment for persistent fatigue and brain fog. (Long COVID? Nope, The Further!)

However, once the college-centric main plot kicks in, the movie slowly declines toward an underwhelming finale. Visually, Wilson faithfully re-creates the misty look of the previous films. Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” warbles in a room full of broken dolls somewhere in the negative space of The Further. This is all fine—as are the jokes, the supporting characters, and the concessions to the film’s PG-13 rating by replacing explicit gore with fake vomit and pancake makeup. Wilson is pretty good as Josh, but that’s to be expected. He’s the one that’s still invested in the whole thing. 

Now playing in theaters. 

Katie Rife

Katie Rife is a freelance writer and critic based in Chicago with a speciality in genre cinema. She worked as the News Editor of The A.V. Club from 2014-2019, and as Senior Editor of that site from 2019-2022. She currently writes about film for outlets like Vulture, Rolling Stone, Indiewire, Polygon, and

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Film Credits

Insidious: The Red Door movie poster

Insidious: The Red Door (2023)

Rated PG-13 for violence, terror, frightening images, strong language and suggestive references.

107 minutes


Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert

Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert

Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert

Lin Shaye as Elise

Andrew Astor as Foster Lambert

Hiam Abbass

Sinclair Daniel

Peter Dager

Leigh Whannell as Specs

Angus Sampson as Tucker


Writer (based on characters created by)

Writer (story by)




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