Insidious: The Red Door Movie Review
We were first introduced to the Lambert family and their supernatural hauntings in 2010’s Insidious followed by the 2013 sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, both of which were directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2). Insidious centered on Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) and their children Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor), and Cali living a seemingly normal life until Dalton starts to see spirits in their home and mysteriously falls into a coma. While Dalton is still in a coma, the rest of the family also begin experiencing ghostly encounters and decide to move to a new home. This does not stop the creepy apparitions and Foster even sees his comatose brother walking the halls.
Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), tells the family she has been seeing a red-faced demon in her dreams and brings in psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) who confirms the presence of the demon in Dalton’s room. Elise also explains that Dalton is not in a coma but rather is astral travelling as he has the ability to leave his body once asleep and enter different dimensions. The reason he has not woken back up is because he is trapped in a dimension called “The Further” with tortured souls, and it is soon revealed that Josh also has the capacitiy to travel via astral projection. If you’ve seen the first film, you know how it ends and that the 2013 sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, picks up where the first film left off with Josh being possessed and turning increasingly violent towards his family. The following installment, Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), serves as a prequel to the first film focusing on a different family with Lin Shaye reprising her role as Elise. The fourth film, Insidious: The Last Key (2018), centers entirely on Elise’s character in flashbacks.
Now, in 2023, Insidious: The Red Door, which can be viewed as the sequel to Insidious: Chapter 2, sees the original cast reunite on-screen for a final time with Patrick Wilson making his directorial debut. Jason Blum, Oren Peli, James Wan, and Leigh Whannell serve as producers.
If you’re wondering whether you need to watch all four films before The Red Door, the answer is no. While it does help to have seen the first 2, The Red Door does inform the viewer of the Lambert family history through dialogue and flashback scenes from the the first 2 films. I have seen the first 2 installments myself, but only once each, so the refreshers were much appreciated.
Josh, Renai, Dalton, Foster, and Cali Lambert can be seen in the opening shot of the film at a cemetery for the funeral of Josh’s mother. Lorraine’s death is not a surprise as Barbara Hershey was not seen in the official trailer last month, nor is she listed as part of the cast. We soon learn that Josh and Renai are divorced and that things are tense between him and Dalton, now an adult about to start college. The breakup storyline explains why Josh is on his own for the majority of the film and the very limited scenes with Renai. This is most likely due to Rose Byrne’s scheduling as she currently stars in 2 Apple TV+ series, Platonic and Physical.
Josh drives Dalton to college and helps him get settled into his dorm room which Dalton isn’t too thrilled about. We learn that the tension between them is due to Josh’s large absence from his children’s lives, resulting in resentment from Dalton. The Lamberts have been through a lot over the past 10 years and the separation between Josh and Renai certainly hasn’t made things easier. On top of that, Josh is dealing with memory loss issues, stemming from being previously hypnotized. It is in the dorm where we meet one of the new cast members, Sinclair Daniel (we will soon see her star in Hulu’s The Other Black Girl) who plays Chris Winslow. Chris is mistaken by the college as a male and is assigned as Dalton’s roommate. Though she gets the mix up resolved and moves out the next day, she and Dalton keep in touch and their friendship grows. Chris is a great addition to the story who brings some comic relief and is willing to help Dalton no matter how illusory or insane his experiences appear to be.
From here, the film is essentially split into 2 storylines: Josh back home dealing with the apparition of a strange figure following him, leading him to try and remember the past; and Dalton away at college pursuing his arts degree and experiencing eerie dreams as well as memory loss from past events. During one of Dalton’s art classes, another new character is introduced, Professor Armagan played by Hiam Abbass (Succession, Ramy), who suggests to her students that they dig deep into their subconscious as inspiration for their drawings. This is a really interesting way of using art as a tool to reveal trauma which serves an important purpose to the story. Dalton begins to have hazy memories as result of this exercise and draws out what he can remember from when he was a child: a red door.
This red door is ultimately the answer to the questions both Dalton and Josh have. As a result, the drawing of the red door is an important vehicle in the film; it is the catalyst that forces father and son to face their pasts together. There are some great jump scares, as expected, throughout which are effective due to the camera angles. This is thanks to Wilson’s work behind the camera. It is fitting that the final Insidious film centering on the Lambert family is his directorial debut. The flashbacks from the first 2 films integrated with the present serve as a real “full circle” feeling if you are a fan of the franchise.
With several storylines woven together, Insidious: The Red Door gives us a satisfying ending to the Lambert family story.
Insidious: The Red Door premieres in theaters Friday, July 7.
Helen Roumeliotis is the Editor-in-Chief at Popternative and currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University. She enjoys writing and learning about how pop culture can be used as tools for education. You can follow her on Instagram @helenroum.