Rose Byrne (“I Am Mother,” 2019) and Ty Simpkins (“The Whale,” 2022) return for “Insidious: The Red Door,” the fifth installment in the “Insidious” franchise. Unlike “Chapter 3” and “The Last Key,” however, “The Red Door” brings back the Lamberts from the first two chapters. The film is directed by and stars Patrick Wilson (“Nightmare Cinema,” 2018) as Josh Lambert, whose fractured relationship with his son Dalton (Simpkins)—due to the culminating events of “Chapter 2”—has caused a rift in his family. Josh drops Dalton off to college at the suggestion of his (now) ex-wife Renai (Byrne). Little does Dalton know that his first year of college is about to open an ominous door the Lamberts thought they’d bolted shut for good.
Wilson’s directorial decisions include replacing scares with creeps for most of the first half of “Insidious: The Red Door.” A sense of melancholia is behind the wheel, with a carefully sliced layer of foreboding lurking right below the main narrative. Throughout the narrative of “The Red Door,” the focus is strictly on the strained family dynamic between Josh, Renai, and a—now grown but very distant—Dalton. The writing by Leigh Whannell (“The Invisible Man,” 2020) and Scott Teems (“Halloween Kills,” 2021) is tack-sharp and fleshes out the tragic emotional aftermath of a crucial family decision that closes “Chapter 2.”
The scares come back in full force when Dalton’s in college while Josh tries to discover why he’s lost control of his mental clarity. This is also when Wilson brings back the vivid Giallo homages of the series’ first two installments. While the rate of scares still isn’t as consistent, it’s important to remember that “Insidious: The Red Door” is less your traditional horror fare than a tragic tale of the consequences of compartmentalizing trauma. Remembering the good, the bad, and the ugly to process your emotions is crucial to mental well-being.
“The Red Door” is not a perfect film by any means. An apparently creepy narrative thread in the film’s first scene—that plays like it’s foreshadowing something important—leads nowhere in particular. There’s nothing to it, just a weird man hovering around who had a past with a specific subject that just… never really has any particular closure. Sinclair Daniel (“One December Night,” 2021), for whom the newest “Insidious” installment is her sophomore feature-length film, is an excellent talent with a boundless emotional range who’s… relegated to the funny-best-friend role for most of the movie. She shines in the final act, where the narrative allows her to push herself, but outside of it, how she was written felt more like a filler or archetype.
Outside of these hiccups, however, “Insidious: The Red Door” is a starkly different horror film from its previous two direct predecessors and an exploration of generational trauma that’s both emotionally harrowing and—later—highly cathartic to viewers who will find themselves connected to it. From Autumn Eakin’s (“The Invitation,” 2022) phenomenal Giallo-inspired cinematography and the incredible sound design that grabs you by the gut all the way to some almost classical production design and pitch-perfect turns from the film’s primary actors, the film is a flawed—and yet, important—horror film that also serves as an emotionally compelling closing chapter to the story of the Lambert family. Worth your time and money.