here is a reason why I stopped watching zombie flicks sometime around 2004, and the reason was that I watched Dawn Of The Dead and finally learned to say no to things that made me feel genuinely, violently ill.
For some reason, my parents had thought it was completely appropriate to let me watch George Romero’s Day Of The Dead when I was eight, and while you can trace back my almost romantic fixation on the horror genre to this tender age, I realized years on that I can’t stomach anything too gross.
All the horror movies combined over the years have given me serious food aversions (mango jam, anything that stirs to pink, grapes), and while I realize some grossness is par for the course, if like nudity, violence, sex, or misogyny, it is gratuitous, I think as audience, I have the right to refuse it.
James Wan, who has created the incredible Conjuring universe and co-created the Saw and Insidious franchises has a very clean, compartmentalized approach to genre. So if it is a spooky urban legend (Dead Silence) you will get all the ambience of the aging town steeped in the aftermath of a curse. If it’s a splatter thriller (Saw), you’ll have the requisite gore. If it’s a straight up supernatural drama (Insidious), you’ll have those elements, minus anything that tries too hard and thus distracts from what the movie actually is.
Wan stepped back from directing the Insidious movies after the second installment, and Patrick Wilson, who plays Josh Lambert, one of the characters key to the storyline stepped in for the fifth one.
Wilson is now a familiar face in the horror genre, and really does get the assignment every time. As a director, while he gets a bunch of things right for The Red Door: spooky art, astral projection depicted naturally, emotional tension, generational trauma, the angst of the relationship between father and son; he digs in where he doesn’t really need to and tries to win over some more sections of the audience with some gross-out moments.
Mr Wilson, we don’t need someone to vomit from every orifice on their face to convince us the film is scary. There’s a reason Insidious has its fans, and vomit is not it. Perhaps this was just artistic signature, and if so, I will not be watching the next installment you direct (I probably will; this has to be one of my horror favorites). Please, if we can do without the puke, let’s do it without the puke.
While the medium-slow-burn approach works for The Red Door, and the new characters, a grown up Dalton Lambert and his friend Chris, are good additions, there is that sense of trying a little too hard here that is off-putting. The non-horror scenes are in direct contrast to the horror. While the scares are tight and well-directed, everything is kind of quick and lazy, and maybe we could have done without.
Perhaps for the sixth installment, we could return to the Lamberts and find out what happened in the missing years that brought us to The Red Door.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection