'Insidious: The Red Door' review: Franchise finale fails to frighten


By AGENCY

When will people learn not to open ominous-looking red doors? – Photos: Handout

Insidious: The Red Door
Director: Patrick Wilson
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Andrew Astor, Steve Coulter, Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaye, Sinclair Daniel and Hiam Abbass.

The Insidious franchise folds back on itself for the fifth installment, returning to its roots with the movie equivalent of getting the (traumatised) band back together.

Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkins, Rose Byrne and Andrew Astor reunite for Insidious: The Red Door, and whether or not you'll want to push this door open may depend on how much of a completist you are. For many, leaving it shut may be just fine.

The new movie takes place nine years after the events of 2013's Insidious: Chapter 2, and the heroic Lambert family is not doing well. Dad (Wilson) and mom (Byrne) are divorced and their college-aged son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), pretty much hates dad. "You really don't know me!” he wails.

The push-pull of fathers and sons is a prominent theme here, but the roots of this particular father-son unhappiness may have to do with the fact that they have suppressed memories of wrestling with demons in a twilight realm called The Further.

The Further – a sort of Upside Down, but long before Stranger Things – is described as "a world far beyond our own, yet it’s all around us, a place without time as we know it, a dark realm filled with the tortured souls of the dead, a place not meant for the living.” So like Hollywood?

Dad and son share a special gift - the ability to astral project, or leave their bodies and drift into other worlds. But the cost is high - the son was in a coma for a year and a demon possessed dad, who then tried to slaughter the family. Memories of that were supposed to be wiped away.

Dad and son in the new installment gradually unlock The Further and return to navigate it, but the movie gradually falls apart into incoherence and the use of jumpscares of shocking images, like creepy dolls in a birdcage, a demon vomiting or circus contortionists emerging from sofas.

The shock of being a director AND star of the movie was keeping Patrick awake.The shock of being a director AND star of the movie was keeping Patrick awake.

It's a pity because Wilson not only acts, he also makes a strong directorial debut and even sings over the end credits, joining the very appropriate Swedish rock band Ghost for Stay. It wouldn't surprise us if Wilson was actually the projectionist at your local cineplex, too.

The screenplay by franchise newcomer Scott Teems feels more like fan fiction, with its loving nods to items associated with the franchise – the camper light, a scary version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and a box of old photos of dad. Mostly the story just meanders.

In reality, Byrne and Astor have very little screen time and it is Wilson and Simpkins who are the stars, as dad tries to come to grips with why he feels "foggy” and Dalton's memories are triggered by a swashbuckling art teacher who challenges her class with this motto: "You must let go of your past.”

There are some nifty new touches, most notably a fright-fest in an MRI machine, an already very intimate procedure in a tight place. Chunks of Insidious: Chapter 2 – the final scene and a crucial fight – are reused liberally, and actor Sinclair Daniel adds comic relief and some sanity as the son's college friend but her story is abandoned unsatisfactorily at the end. Too many bows are attached to the movie's final moments as well, reunions not earned or coherent.

If the Insidious franchise is your jam, by all means go and see the original Fab Four of the Lambert family battle hollow-eyed demons for perhaps the last time. But for everyone else, why not let the past stay in the past? – Review by Mark Kennedy/AP

5 10

Summary:

Maybe just leave the door shut?

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Insidious: The Read Door

   

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