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Insidious: The Red Door ★★★★



Director: Patrick Wilson

Cast: Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Sinclair Daniel, Hiam Abbas, Steve Coulter

Release Date: 7th July 2023

Taking place nine years after the traumatising events of James Wan’s masterwork Insidious: Chapter 2, Josh and Dalton Lambert may have temporarily been stripped of all memories regarding the harrowing circumstances of the first two instalments, yet these wounds appear to stay etched in for a lifetime. The so-called final instalment of the Lambert family narrative arc is spear-headed by Patrick Wilson himself, in his own directorial debut, giving Insidious 5, also regarded as Insidious: The Red Door, a devastatingly personal texture.

Insidious 5 opens on a melancholy note at the passing of matriarch Lorraine Lambert, leaving the Lambert family scattered and frayed at the core. Josh and Renai are now divorced, Foster is broody and teenaged, and Dalton is infuriated with the world he is a part of, seeking solace only in his creativity and chiaroscuro artwork. Preparing for his freshman year, seeking total independence and space from his family, Dalton has begun rejecting his distant father’s attempt to re-establish some form of relationship between father and son. Yet, too much disdain, he takes up his father’s offer to drive him to school for his first semester of college. Josh is struggling, both at being a father and with his “foggy” brain function that he describes as blighting the last few years of his life. As a clear allegory for depression, Wilson, as a director,  has a clear, human understanding of both childhood and adult trauma, and this is displayed in both formal execution as well as in narrative beats.

With only fragments of disillusioned memories of their experiences in The Further, Dalton and Josh are individually bewildered and haunted by a series of reoccurring instances. One particularly terrifying encounter takes place in an MRI scanner, where Josh has come to find an answer for his brain fog. In the scanner, Wilson whips to an extreme bird’s eye close-up, reminiscent of the kinetic photography that made Wan’s films relatively so formally excellent, focusing on the distressed face of Josh as the lights inevitably fade. Wilson understands where the true face of horror stems from, inflicting his audience with a series of horrific non-diegetic audio cues paired with viscerally petrifying imagery. Yet, what makes Insidious 5 quite so terrifying, is steeping its narrative into a deeply personal tale of father and son.

Both Josh and Dalton are fine-tuned sensitive creatures with the superpower of astral projection. An esoteric belief that the subtle body and the physical body can adapt and function within separate consciousnesses. I say superpower, as The Further gives them both an opportunity to symbolically and figuratively find one other, yet The Further obtains an unspeakable malevolence that it demands to be seen in the pitch-black space of the cinematic arena.

There is a majesty to Wilson’s directorial sensibilities. He is striking a delicate balance between utilising the horrors of the past in “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and “The Man With the Fire in His Face” as iconic and demonic archetypes of the roots of the Insidious franchise, with an empathetic, charming innocence of making your first entry into the cinematic realm. Wilson ultimately leaves the final instalment of Lambert’s family’s narrative arc in a heartfelt and cared-for position. He was leaving the Lambert family, finally, with a sense of equilibrium. 

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