As a casual viewer that enjoyed the original "Insidious" quite a bit 13 years ago, I got some good scares out of its fifth and final chapter INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR.
Clearly since I've missed the last two chapters, they weren't vital to the suspense and horror that face the Lambert family. Both were prequels that took place before modern day.
This time around, Dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) and son Dalton (still played by Ty Simpkins all these years later) are still wrestling to put away the demons that have haunted them ever since their first venture into "The Further".
That's the world between ours and the dead, with some very nasty beings wanting to tag along if you happen to astral project into their domain.
As this final chapter opens, Josh is divorced from Renai (Rose Byrne) and rarely sees his kids, but gets the opportunity to bond with Dalton on the long drive to his first day at college.
All is not right in the Lambert family, with Josh reeling with confusion and a brain fog only exaggerated by grief over the recent loss of his mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey).
Both Josh and Dalton have no recollection of their past experience in The Further, but struggle daily with whatever is boiling right beneath their surface.
Dalton hits college as a brooding, rude loner, but instantly bonds with his roommate Chris Winslow. Newcomer Sinclair Daniel is a standout as Chris. She's hilarious, real and a proven bad-ass asset when the demons or frat boys come-a-calling.
Hiam Abbass (Munich, Blade Runner 2049) is terrific as art Professor Armagan. Intimidating and brilliant, she taps into Dalton's memories and he conjures up some seriously disturbing charcoal drawings.
And of course Lin Shaye is back as Elise Rainier. Featured in a video that Chris and Dalton watch to learn about The Further, Shaye manages to create chills with her simple dialogue.
Kudos to first-time Director Patrick Wilson. He's got plenty of style and keeps the story flowing with numerous clever set pieces that keep you on the edge of your seat, staring as hard as you can into the dark, under the bed or toward the window just waiting for whatever THAT is to come into focus.
He stages the scariest MRI ever experienced, a college party to raise the dead and a very clever little memory game played on the front window panes of Josh's house. All are suspenseful with great payoffs.
And these horror series are ALL about the payoff.
Composer Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring) spins a great score that starts with opening violins screaming in angst like something is being torn apart. It's creepy as hell and he escalates that tone throughout. Earning overtime, Bishara also plays the Lipstick Demon, whose first appearance in the original film still haunts. The daytime appearance just over Wilson's shoulder of his red & black face in the original film is still one of the best jump scares of the last 20 years.
The Insidious series is notable for the level of horror it's been able to reach while still achieving a PG-13 rating. Proof that horror isn't all about graphic violence, the films are still plenty scary and very enjoyable if you like that sort of thing. Count me in.
A decent wrap up to an interesting film series, INSIDIOUS: THE RED DOOR still has a few surprises in the next room if you're brave enough to turn the knob. It gets a B-.