Patrick Wilson makes his directorial debut with this fifth entry, but it's impossible to recommend to anyone other than completists
After two films out of the spotlight, the Lambert family return to the Insidious fold for the fifth instalment in the 13-year-old series, brought to us by franchise star turned first-time director Patrick Wilson. Reprising his role as troubled father Josh Lambert, Wilson also steps behind the camera for The Red Door, a serviceable but entirely unremarkable entry that should satisfy Insidious devotees but doesn’t do anything exciting enough to entice new fans in.
A direct -follow up to Insidious 2, The Red Door picks up with the Lamberts a decade after a possessed Josh almost killed his family, prompting him and the kids, including eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) to have their memories wiped. 10 years on, and neither Josh nor Dalton are doing all that well – Josh is separated from ex-wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and having serious trouble remembering, well, anything, while Dalton is sullenly anxious about his imminent departure for art school.
After a particularly intense art class, Dalton finds disturbing memories bubbling to the surface, memories that re-open his family’s connection to the hellish realm of “The Further,” letting demons in to his college dorm. It all starts very slowly – even the jump scares in the first half hour are pretty damply ineffective – and actually getting to the proper frights is a slog. This is in no small part due to just how bad the moment-to-moment dialogue is here, Scott Teems’s script drowning in a morass of cliches and annoying characters.
Though there are some interesting story notes about art as a substitute for memory and how we become the things that haunt us, the spell is consistently broken whenever anyone opens their mouths. Every college scene is utterly inane, from Dalton’s absurd art teacher to a frat house party scene that would have felt dated a decade ago, to Dalton’s unbelievably irritating roommate/sidekick. It means that the scares actually come as a bit of a relief – finally everyone can shut up whilst a creepy crawly man chases his prey through some nondescript corridors.
When it escalates into all-out chaos in the finale, The Red Door is more exciting; even if the scares are mostly predictable, the sudden departure from the very boringly designed real world into a more supernatural space does perk you up. Even here, though, the performances don’t really capture the level of fear you might like. Simpkins is not a particularly compelling lead (he actually gets top billing ahead of Wilson), while Wilson, a veteran of not just these movies but the eerily similar Conjuring franchise too, can effectively sleepwalk through this role.
It all adds up to a vaguely diverting but forgettable slice of horror, one that quite simply moves too slowly to ever grab you like, say, the recent Evil Dead reboot did. If you have a pre-existing investment in this world and its characters, this does feel like a satisfying enough final goodbye, but with just as many annoying scenes as spooky ones, I can’t recommend it to anyone other than completists.
Insidious: The Red Door is released in UK cinemas in 7 July.Where to watch