Friday, July 07, 2023

Insidious: The Red Door

Thanks to the power of hypnosis, Josh Lambert and his son Dalton intentionally forgot what happened in the second Insidious film, but Blumhouse hopes you remember, considering the last two films were prequels, featuring paranormal investigator Elise Rainier. She had become the fan-favorite character, which would be fine with the Lamberts, who were hoping to be done with “The Further.” Nevertheless, the evil entities start reaching out for them once again in Patrick Wilson’s Blumhouse-produced Insidious: The Red Door, which opens today nationwide.

So, nine years ago, everyone got back safe and sound from The Further, but father and son were so traumatized, they had a hypnotist friend of Josh’s mother Lorraine block out their memories. That worked okay for a while, but it caused a lot of brain fog for the older Lambert, which affected his relationships with his family.

Unfortunately, Pops Lambert starts having strange, demonic visions possibly brought on by his mother’s death. So does dreary Dalton, when he taps into subconscious memories of The Further for an art class exercise. Soon, he too is having freaky encounters with the angry entities of The Further, much to the alarm of his only friend at college, Chris Winslow (platonic from what viewers can tell, because who could ever be attracted to such a moody whiner).

Although the audience might be happy to leave Dalton in The Further, we can guess his father will eventually go back in to save him, but this time, they will not have Rainier’s help. Thematically,
Red Door is a lot like Wilson’s other major horror franchise, The Conjuring, in which the strength that comes from family is always essential for defeating supernatural evil.

In his directorial debut, Wilson displays a surprisingly refined visual sensibility. He has the patience to let key scenes play out deliberately, to steadily crank up the atmosphere of dread. He also uses the full frame, with some clever soft-focus tricks, to keep viewers guessing. It looks good and the slow-build suspense compounds quite profitably.

Wilson also impresses on the other side of the camera, especially in the way his expresses Lambert’s frustration with his iffy mental state. Rose Byrne has much less screen-time in
Red Door, but she is also great in her key scenes as Lambert’s semi-estranged wife, Renal. Ty Simpkins portrayal of Dalton Lambert is altogether charmless, but Sinclair Daniel helps compensate as Winslow, bringing much of the energy to their college scenes need. Plus, there are some cameos franchise fans will appreciate.

In many ways,
Red Door is a meditation on what it means to be a parent. It is also quietly creepy, in the right kind of way—maybe even the best of the franchise so far. Recommended for horror fans, Insidious: The Red Door opens today (7/7) in theaters, including the Look Dine-In Cinemas W57.