All the way back in 2010, an allegiance was formed that would change the world of modern horror cinema forever, when James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Jason Blum teamed up respectively as director, writer and producer on the worldwide mega-hit Insidious. Since then, Wan and Blum have continued to work together on some of horror’s hugest franchises, including The Conjuring (the highest-grossing horror franchise to date) and 2022’s instant cult classic M3GAN. Now, they’re back to finish the story that started it all, with Insidious: The Red Door.
Directed by star Patrick Wilson, The Red Door returns to the story of the Lambert family (Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor) ten years after their reckoning with malevolent spirits from a demonic astral plane known as the Further. After Josh Lambert (Wilson) drops his eldest son Dalton (Simpkins) off to start his college education, what should be the most exciting time of Dalton's life turns hellish as the pair realize the Further might not be finished with them just yet...
Ahead of the movie's July 7 release date, we sat down with Wan and Blum to chat sequels, demons and what makes Insidious: The Red Door such a perfect moviegoing experience.
It's been a decade since we last saw the Lambert family in 2013's Insidious: Chapter Two, which saw Josh and Dalton having their terrifying memories repressed in an attempt to move on with their lives. How did it feel to return to their story 10 years later?
James Wan: For me, that was the most exciting part about this sequel. We're going back to the story that we started with in the first two films, back to where it all started. And then I was doubly excited when I found out that Patrick wanted to direct it.
Jason Blum: It's always hard to know when a sequel makes sense or doesn't make sense. There's always got to be more of a reason than 'the studio wants a sequel', but with the Lambert family's story we had a reason to make another chapter of our franchise.
The Red Door is an extra exciting moment for the Insidious family and fans, as it marks Patrick Wilson's directorial debut. Having worked with Wilson extensively through the Insidious, The Conjuring and Aquaman franchises, it's clear that Wan trusts Wilson in front of the camera - but how did he know that he could also trust him behind it?
JW: I've known Patrick for a while now and obviously have worked with him on a lot of projects. I know him pretty well, in the sense that I know what he likes, I know what he's into and I know what he's passionate about. Patrick's always been passionate about storytelling; even when I'm directing him as an actor, he will always talk to me about his character from a storytelling perspective. It felt very organic that Patrick wanted to step up and be a director - I could always see it happening. I just didn't necessarily realise it was going to be with the Insidious franchise, but needless to say I was very excited when I found out that was what he wanted to make his directorial debut with. I could always see him telling his story as Josh, and the Lambert's story as a whole, bringing back the family unit. There's really no-one better to tell that family story than Patrick at this point.
Although Wan has handed over the directorial reigns to many of his franchises and spin-offs, was there anything in Insidious: The Red Door that he felt he might have approached differently?
JW: No, not really - at this point I have handed over so many franchises to directors I respect and believe in. As a director, I also stepped into another well-established franchise when I did Furious 7 so I know what it's like to come into a world that's already established but also want to have the freedom to make the movie I wanted to make. That was really important to me to keep in mind when I did Furious 7, so that was the same approach I have with franchises that I've started - I'll tell my filmmakers that this is the world we've created, play within it, and make the movie that you want to make. I always believed in Patrick's vision from the get-go, and it's very much a continuation of what we created together from the first two films so it was totally cohesive and made total sense for me.
And in a similar vein - was there any direction in particular he was really excited for Wilson to take the film?
JW: That's the really cool thing about the Further - it really affords us the ability to kind of go anywhere. Basically wherever our imagination takes us! We can explore anything within this world that we've set up. The rules of the Further are pretty loose. We knew going into The Red Door that we wanted it to be Lambert family-centric, so we knew that in a lot of ways we wanted the demons that haunt the family to be the same demons that haunt them in the first film - so that gave us a framework of where we wanted to jump off from, and then from that Patrick could explore other areas of the Further.
Speaking of demons, the Insidious franchise has blessed - or rather, cursed - us with some of the most terrifying and iconic monsters of modern horror, with The Red Door seeing a host of new demonic terrors that'll churn your stomach and make your blood run cold. However, there's one particular creature that Wan (and I'm sure most of us feel the same) is especially excited to see return...
JW: I'm definitely excited to see Lipstick Face back. I love that character. And getting the chance to bring (FANGORIA Chainsaw Award-winning composer and Lipstick Face actor) Joseph Bishara back is always fun!
Post-pandemic, horror has been killing it at the box office. From Malignant to M3GAN, Wan and Blum have had no small part in bringing back audiences who definitely needed some bloody catharsis after the last few years. What makes Insidious: The Red Door, and the franchise as a whole, such a fantastic moviegoing experience?
JB: Two things: Because of the great storytelling that James and Leigh did with the Lambert family. That family is very compelling and people want to spend time with them, and see what's happening with them and what they're doing. I also think the tone of the Insidious movies is very unique and it's a tone that James and Leigh are always amazing at - scary but fun. A lot of horror movies are very bleak - and that's nothing against them - but Insidious is scary but it's also a really fun time with a lot of humor in it. Which makes it scarier! The audience relaxes, starts laughing, you forget you're watching a horror movie for a second and then the scare comes and it's even more terrifying.
Horror with heart seems to be a core theme running through of a lot of Blumhouse Productions. Does Blum find himself particularly drawn to those kind of projects?
JB: I think James and I see the same thing, which is that horror movies don't work if you're not really emotionally connected to the characters. You need a lot of heart in the story. You have to be just as tied up in the events that are happening that are not scary, to be scared. We really agree on that, and I think that most of the movies that both of us have worked on focus a lot on the storytelling around interpersonal dynamics of the characters.
Insidious: The Red Door will be released in theaters nationwide on July 7, 2023.