Patrick Wilson directs this latest effort but its Ty Simpkins who steals the show and proves there’s life in this franchise.
PLOT: The Lamberts must go deeper into The Further than ever before to put their demons to rest once and for all.
REVIEW: Despite only being five films deep, the Insidious series has been through some interesting times. Most of the takes after the first two films didn’t really work, so the fifth outing sees the Lambert family return. Not only that, but we’ve got lead Patrick Wilson taking a position behind the camera. As someone who has enjoyed but doesn’t love the series, I went into this one with low expectations. It doesn’t help that it seems like every “Legacy” sequel these days has a tinge of disappointment to them. But I’d say that’s actually one of Insidious: The Red Door‘s strengths.
I was very trepidatious going into this film as the second entry ended with the leads having their memories erased. My biggest fear was that, for most of the runtime, the audience would constantly know more than the characters and we’d just be waiting for them to catch up. And while that does happen slightly (that’s just the nature of any sequel) they mostly avoid it. If anything, it serves as a great launching-off point for the wedge that’s been driven between Ty Simpkin’s Dalton and Patrick Wilson’s Josh.
Bringing back the Lambert family proves to be more than just a gimmick as Simpkins takes center stage in Insidious: The Red Room and really impresses. While Patrick Wilson has his moments, he mostly gives Simpkins the room to make an impact. Ty is not the same actor he was and really gets to show how much he’s grown as a performer. There were several instances where I was taken aback at how good he was. While anyone that watches the trailer could have probably surmised, Rose Byrne is not in this film nearly enough. With how much of an emotional anchor her character was prior, her limited screen time is disappointing. But even still, I understand why they did it and by doing so, they really place the characters in an interesting spot.
One aspect I really didn’t like was the switch in aspect ratio. Usually, the Insidious movies are presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio, yet they go for the taller 1.85:1 here. I’m sure this isn’t going to bother most but it really took the franchise’s identity away. The wide shots and great use of framing are staples of the series so it feels strange to shrink the canvas from which the filmmakers can create. And with how fantastic most of the cinematography is here, it’s a little disappointing that it feels limited.
Another key factor when going into Insidious: The Red Room is going to be whether or not you enjoy jump scares. Because if there’s one thing the series loves, it’s an absurd number of jump scares. As someone who mostly just gets annoyed with them, I can’t say that was any different here. However, I did appreciate the tension that they could build with the anticipation of them. The audience is clearly aware of the “appearing from behind” scare, and the filmmakers really use that to their advantage.
Like any good sequel, we’ve got the return of some memorable characters from the franchise’s past but I won’t spoil them here. This truly feels like a film that is both trying to honor the movies that came before it and make them better by providing more context to them. While this is certainly a slippery slope as the unknown is often scarier than the explained, I really liked the messaging in this one. It’s about facing your fears versus hiding from them and trying to forget. While Insidious: The Red Door doesn’t break any new ground, it revitalizes the series in an interesting way. Let’s just hope they leave the Lambert family alone. They could use a break.
Insidious: The Red Door in IN THEATERS ON JULY 7TH, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/insidious-the-red-door-review/