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  • Nate Adams

'Insidious: The Red Door' review: A clumsy end to an already lackluster franchise

Courtesy of Sony


For what’s being billed as the final chapter in the “Insidious” franchise, a series that has long overstayed its welcome after the terrifying 2011 entry kickstarted everything, “The Red Door” fails to deliver on those heightened expectations. In fact, for a majority of this 5th installment, not much happens other than a spattering of obligatory PG13 jump scares, leaving franchise star-turned-director Patrick Wilson with scraps of what the series once stood for. Which, to be honest, hasn’t produced anything memorable since the original, save for “Chapter 3,” a prequel, that had the occasional spooky sequence, but still wasn’t anything to write home about.

In “The Red Door,” there’s no sense of finality or comprehension of how we got to this moment (and requires a lot of knowledge of the forgettable 2013 sequel). The movie lacks tension or vigor with serious pacing issues despite Wilson capturing the signature look of what’s made these movies endure for as long as they have. He returns as Josh Lambert, after sitting out parts three and four, who has since divorced his wife (Rose Byrne – returning in a thankless supporting capacity) and is estranged from his children, notably Dalton (Ty Simpkins – all grown up). For those that don’t remember (guilty as charged), Dalton utilized his gift of astral projection during “Chapter Two” to help expunge an evil spirit that was haunting dad. After that, the two were hypnotized to forget the whole encounter although why the rest of the family didn’t have their memories erased remains a strange plot hole.

Regardless, this makes “The Red Door” more about the telepathic connection the father-and-son duo share as Dalton heads to college and studies art. It’s here where he’s encouraged to express his artistic merit, but it also inadvertently opens the floodgates to The Further. And suddenly, the forgotten year of when Dalton was in a coma and dad was possessed are seeping back into reality. Disturbing and vivid visions (including the film’s only terrifying sequence set within an MRI machine) are becoming more dominant and it’s very evident something is trying to make its way back into the real world.

The script by franchise creator Leigh Whannell and co-writer Scott Teems dabbles with interesting family dynamics, but “The Red Door” never comes close to capturing the stakes or tension James Wan did in 2011. Considering none of the sequels have, that shouldn’t be a surprise, except with “The Red Door” positioned as the final nail in the coffin (so they say), you’d expect more bravado in the closing moments. Instead, it ends with a whimper and lackluster performances. Simpkins sleepwalks through the entire movie and the inclusion of the spunky, comedic relief by franchise newcomer Sinclair Daniel doesn’t move the needle. Of course, it was a pipe dream to expect “Insidious” would remain a standalone entry after robust box office and critical praise, but to suffer in quality decline this steep almost makes you question if the first one was any good in the first place.

Grade: D+

INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR is now playing in theaters.


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