Insidious: The Red Door

Director: Patrick Wilson
Starring: Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Sinclair Daniel, Hiam Abbass, Andrew Astor, Peter Dager, David Call, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaye
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 107 mins. Reviewed in Jul 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Supernatural themes, violence and coarse language

A father and son experience disturbing dreams and fantasies, images of disturbing creatures, and try to combat them.
This is the fifth episode in the Insidious franchise and initial critical and box office positive response indicates that fans of the series have not been disappointed. The Insidious films are the brainchild of Australian writers and directors, Leigh Whannell and James Wan. (And it is they who began the Saw franchise as well as contributing to The Conjuring franchise – and with Patrick Wilson as the star of insidious as well as the Conjuring films, casual viewers of the series may well get them mixed up.

However, the screenplay has been cleverly written so that fans will not be confused. It goes back almost 10 years and continues from eerie experiences for Josh Lambert (Wilson) and his young son, Dalton (Simpkins). In case we don’t remember exactly the details, this film opens with them undergoing hypnosis so that the memories of the frightening experiences will vanish, Josh recovering and resuming his life, Dalton, on the other hand, going into coma for a year. Simpkins played the young boy Dalton 10 years earlier. Josh, on the one hand, still feels disturbed but does not understand why. There are difficulties with his wife, divorce, puzzles about his supportive mother – who dies and is buried also at the beginning of the film.

So, to the present. Josh is disturbed at his mother’s funeral when he encounters the doctor who hypnotised him but does not recognise him. And the disturbances begin again, vague memories of his absent father, but, gradually, his becoming possessed by visions of bodied and disembodied characters, more and more disturbed. And he has lost the bond with his son. He does off to drive Dalton to his new college, help him settle in, but Dalton is a strange character – dark, morose, a skilful artist who has drawn a portrait of his grandmother, but, like his father, becoming more and more possessed by strange creatures in his imagination and dreams.

Dalton has enrolled in art classes and experiences the highly demanding lecturer, Professor Armagan (Abbass), who illustrates her themes by some of the ferocious Goya paintings, the father devouring his child. She encourages the artists to be quiet, count back from 10, then paint what emerges from their psyche. Dalton starts to paint ominous pictures, especially a red door and a mysterious ferocious character, at first not distinguishable, but then resembling his father, with an axe. Dalton has disturbing dreams, fantasies, out of body experiences.

There is a potential strong anchor in Dalton’s life, a new student, Chris (a vigorous performance by Daniel), supporting Dalton, trying to understand him, sharing in some of his fearful experiences. Josh goes through an MRI process but there is nothing wrong with his brain. But he does go into a deep sleep, nightmares, confronting his inner fears, understanding his father, eventually bonding with Dalton.

Patrick Wilson has been convincing in both the Insidious and Conjuring films – and, this time he is the director. Allegedly the end of the series, but with audience interest who knows what creative turns screenwriters can come up with.

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