The unfortunate conclusion to what was once a genuinely terrifying franchise
Man looking scared

"Insidious: The Red Door" Sony Pictures Releasing

The first "Insidious" was released back in 2011 with James Wan as the director, and it's still undoubtedly the best in the series. Good horror films depend on characters, atmosphere, subtle occurrences, and mounting dread. "Insidious: The Red Door," the fifth and supposedly "final" installment in the franchise, only ticks a few of these boxes.

I wanted to love "Insidious 5," especially with it being Patrick Wilson's directorial debut––having established himself as a bona fide scream king between "The Conjuring" and the first two "Insidious" movies. Plus, with Blumhouse's reputation for producing some of the most acclaimed horror films to date, including "Get Out" (2017) and Paranormal Activity (2007), my expectations were high. However, the "final" installment of the "Insidious" franchise was a mixed bag for me.

In "Insidious: The Red Door," nine years had passed since the events of "Insidious: Chapter 2," when a young Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins) and his father, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), underwent hypnosis to suppress the memories of their horrific experiences. Dalton has transformed into a moody teen, heading off to a liberal arts college. Josh has felt "foggy" since the hypnotism, his marriage to Renai (Rose Byrne) falling apart, and his relationship with Dalton is nonexistent.

At college, Dalton's art professor (Hiam Abbass) encourages the class to channel their inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions for inspiration. This triggers the return of some familiar and terrifying commodities. With the help of his new college friend Chris (Sinclair Daniel), Dalton discovers his ability to "astral project" and starts searching for answers. Unfortunately, he overreaches, and both father and son end up back in The Further.

This installment does maintain the quirkiness and practical nature of the original movies' scares. However, only two jump scares felt genuinely earned, while the rest seemed forced. The "Red Door" functions as a plot device. While it had the potential to elevate the narrative, the actual revelation surrounding it felt lackluster and uninspiring.

Dalton's college roommate Chris feels like a character included solely to drive the plot forward. This is unfortunate because Daniel's charm and witty one-liners inject much-needed energy into the film.

Visually, this is the darkest movie I've seen in a while –– I'm not referring to the subject matter. The color palettes and heavy shadows make it difficult to see. The film heavily relies on split lighting, which I found more annoying than suspenseful. My condolences to anyone watching this at the drive-ins.

On a positive note, the film effectively uses a cross-cutting scene where a figure in the background progressively gets closer to the character, building suspense and highlighting the increasing threat. Not to mention this takes place during the day, which adds another layer of creepy.

The pacing is inconsistent. It starts with the bang before the title card appears, followed by a slow burn until the final act. The final act fails to deliver on what the narrative had been building up to, making the ending a letdown.

It never feels like the characters are in peril, nor was I given a reason to invest in the relationship between Dalton and Josh. I wished more time had been spent in The Further, the dream that's not really a dream (think of Eleven from Stranger Things).

While Wilson sticks too close to the franchise's tropes, the film works better when he adds his own twist, including an anxiety-ridden daytime scare and his clever use of silence as a setup for suspense. I appreciate the themes injected into the movie, like the concept that it's okay to remember painful experiences and not to bury the past.

"Insidious: The Red Door" wraps up the franchise with a satisfying conclusion for the Lamberts. I do think fans of the series and horror fans will find some things they like, but it's probably a good idea to let this franchise rest for a few years.