For those who don’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies. I’ve watched them for years and years, from some of the best horror movies of all time that are certified classics, to those that are fairly new, such as the best A24 horror films that have released over the last few years. But, one horror franchise that I think has had its ups and downs is Insidious.
From the moment the first film came out back in 2010, the movie franchise became a huge hit, spawning multiple sequels. While I don’t particularly think that the Insidious movies are James Wan’s best – as I think that The Conjuring universe holds that crown – there are still four movies within the Insidious franchise that can be ranked so far, and a new one is coming out in 2023.
So, in honor of Insidious: The Red Door releasing in summer 2023, let’s talk about the first four movies – and how we rank them.
4. Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Yeah, I really don’t think Insidious: Chapter 2 is one of the best in this franchise. It honestly bothers me how bad it is in comparison to the first.
Let’s get into why. I’ll give the film some praise first. I have to say, I do love how it picks up right where the first movie left off. We have the same characters, stories, and even the same actors, with both the main stars from the first film, Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, returning.
In many sequels, such as the Halloween franchise, a lot of the past movie's details are completely ignored or retconned. For example, with the 2018 Halloween sequel, that was considered a fresh sequel to the John Carpenter horror classic, with all the other movies in the franchise basically ignored.
It’s not uncommon for horror movies to do that, so I’ll give credit where credit is due and say that I’m happy the second movie of this franchise stuck with what came before. However, that’s about where my praise ends.
I don’t personally think the performances in this are better than the first, but I can get through a movie even if the acting performances are not that great as long as the scares are good. But Insidious: Chapter 2 really doesn’t bring that many scares at all – if any. It doesn’t feel nearly as unique as the first film, where it was filled with horror movie tropes but done so effectively.
It also doesn’t help that the film decides to take a tiring route and turn Wilson's Josh against his family, sort of how The Shining did it. I’ve already seen that before, I didn’t need to see a patriarch hunt his family down again. Maybe some people enjoyed it, but for me, it felt like lazy writing for a sequel to a movie that was so obviously better. It’s rare that twist can really be done well nowadays.
3. Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
Alright, Insidious: The Last Key was actually better than I thought it would be. If we’re being honest, I watched this movie for the first time before writing this article. 2018 was the year of some really good horror movies, such as Ari Aster’s Hereditary, as well as Upgrade, and more, so the Insidious franchise was one of the last few on my list to watch.
I have to say, I at least enjoyed The Last Key a little more than the first sequel, maybe because I like how it stepped away from the main family of the first movies and instead, focused on Elise. It’s a big reason why the prequel film, for me, ended up being better.
Elise was one of the few characters from the first film I really loved and remembered and I consider her an ultimate horror movie Scream Queen at this point. That’s what makes me like this sequel so much. We really started to learn more about her troubled past, from her relationship with her brother and how she got to where she is now, all of which was added to the sense of background horror eeriness.
The movie in of itself feels a lot more emotional than many of the other Insidious movies, because we’re more focused on the dynamic between Elise and her family rather than the demons, but sometimes, that’s all you need in a horror movie – a good family dynamic, and some good scares. The Last Key offers that and more.
2. Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
I’m tired of hiding it – Insidious: Chapter 3 is better than Chapter 2 and I will stand by that decision, this is my hill I am willing to die on.
Alright, maybe not die on it, but I feel very strongly about it. I’m a huge fan of prequels. I think if done right, prequels can really elevate a story and take it to the next level, adding more lore for fans to really enjoy the franchise, and Chapter 3 does that.
Not only do the scares feel that much more authentic this time around, and the Lambert family is out of the picture again, so we can focuse on Elise again, and her story of leaving retirement in order to help with a girl who is being haunted by demons.
As we dive further into the “the Further,” I can’t help but admire Lin Shaye’s performance. She is what makes this film so good. The uncomfortable nature of the Insidious films are still there, just not as fresh. However, if not for Shaye’s incredible performance that really makes this movie so worth watching, it would be lower on my list.
That’s why I think diving into her past was such an essential thing to do, and it really shook up the franchise and shined more light on her life. I can always stand by that, and say it deserves a lot of praise.
1. Insidious (2010)
I mean, is anyone surprised? Of course the first Insidious movie was going to be number one on this list.
I actually just watched Insidious for the first time in years a few weeks ago, and even now, I still think it’s one of the most genre-defining horror movies of the 21st century. Sure, some of the scares are corny, but it was creative at the time and really messed with your head with uncomfortable imagery and so much more.
The first Insidious not only introduced some scary as heck demons (at least at the time), but created a whole different parallel universe that gave people so much to theorize on, something that we dove further into with later films.
I really don’t think anything could beat Insidious at number one, unless the latest sequel decided to redo everything from before. For now, though, it stays at the top. From the performances of Patrick Wilson as a certified Scream King, to Lin Shaye and even Rose Byrne, to that chilling cliffhanger of an ending, Insidious stays at number one.
What we know about Insidious: The Red Door is that it's coming out in summer 2023, and I feel like rewatching all these films just for fun. Which one do you love the most? Time for a spooky horror movie marathon.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!