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Redefining horror through an ‘art’ form – Beyond Bollywood

Actor-director Patrick Wilson opens the doors for a more psychological experience than horror. Tedious for some, slow-burn for the genre loyalists.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️? (2.5 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

James Wan and Leigh Whannel have perhaps carried the torch for the horror genre in the last decade. Wan’s created his The Conjuring Universe, whilst Whannel has built the Insidious franchise. Wan and Whannel go a long way having conjured the Saw franchise earlier. The former even helmed Insidious [2010] and Insidious Chapter 2 [2013]. Wan’s then settled more in a producer’s role in the Insidious franchise. Whannel’s been the constant creative force in the franchise, having also helmed the third film.

Whannel has teamed up with Scot Teems to pen the screenplay for Insidious: The Red Door [2023. It releases a day in India before the USA.  A more direct sequel to the first two films, the fifth film also comes with added responsibility for lead actor Patrick Wilson, who turned director for Insidious: The Red Door [2023].

It’s a welcome return for Wilson with Whannell and Teems reigniting the horror that terrorised Josh Lambert [Wilson], his son Dalton [Ty Simpkins] in the first two films. duo. Now 21, Simpkins has turned into a bright handsome young man. The smooth silky long hair is likely to make young women go weak in the knees.

With a catchline of ‘Face your demons’, the narrative naturally requires Josh and Dalton to revisit the horror that tormented them 13 years ago. It’s a return to the Astral projection space for the duo. The mere sight of the red door stoked fear in many hearts. 

Honestly speaking, save for the first film, the horror in the subsequent films began to get dull, repetitive. Those looking for conventional horror, The Red Door [2023) isn’t quite down your alley. Whannell, Teems and Wilson do away from the usual tropes, and in stead, provide for a more psychological experience .

They use an art form to create a slightly unique experience within the primary haunting plot.

13 years on since the events in Insidious, Josh Lambert’s going through a rough patch in life. His mother has passed away, while his wife Renal [Rose Byrne] has divorced him. He’s there for his kids, but there is a gulf between Josh and Dalton.  The latter has very little recollection of the events from 2010, 2013 with the family concealing the dark past from the children.

Dalton is a bit of introvert. He expresses more through his charcoal drawings. He is clueless about his dark arts, which inevitably reopens The Red Door.

Wilson opts for a slow-burn screenplay, limited spooky scenes and concentrates more on fleshing out the gulf in the father-son relationship. There isn’t much horror, but one is intrigued by the demons of the mind.

Despite the slow narrative, Wilson, Byrne shine for their intense acts. Simpkins is largely restrained, but he’s defensive whenever Josh argues with him.  The young man does reasonably well to bring out the subdued nature of Dalton.

Sinclair Daniel adds freshness to this Lambert story. A boyish name confuses the hostel admin who puts up Chris Winslow [Daniel] in the same room as Dalton.  Chris is a chirpy, lively African-Brit teen who adds some vigour in the weird Dalton’s life. She soon unearths that Dalton’s fears aren’t confounded. Winslow’s positivity, electrifying attitude lights up an otherwise gloomy tale. Daniel’s energetic showing further draws you to the character.

Whilst horror fans will rue the lack of adequate chills, Wilson and co. do put up a fairly immersive visual show. The one real eerie scene is when Josh is having an MRI scan, when the lights go out in the room. The sight of a devil when you are inside an MRI machine. Phew, no way to run.

The Red Door ends where it all began. It does appear that it is perhaps the end of the Lambert haunting, unless Whannell has left The Red Door ajar for the devil to creep back in. Despite it cons, The Red Door is still more engaging than the last few films in the franchise.

The Red Door [2023] is set to be released in India on 6 July.

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