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Film / Insidious

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"It's not the house that's haunted."

Insidious is a series of thriller/horror films centered on paranormal investigators who protect people from beings hailing from a supernatural dimension known as "the Further". The films were produced by Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), and Jason Blum, under his production company, Blumhouse Productions, and written by Leigh Whannell (Saw).

The first film was directed by James Wan, Whannell's frequent collaborator and director of the first Saw, and released on April 1st, 2011. The story centers on the Lambert family, consisting of father Josh (Patrick Wilson), mother Renai (Rose Byrne), and their three children, the oldest being ten-year-old Dalton. As they begin to settle into a new home, they experience strange noises and other unexplained phenomena. Soon Dalton is rushed to the hospital after slipping into a coma shortly after falling off a ladder in the attic. Months slip by, and the doctors still have no explanation for his continuing coma. When the boy is returned home under his mother's care, more frightening events occur in the home. The mother is so horrified that she moves the family to another new home in hopes of leaving the fearful memories behind them.

The family quickly discovers that the haunting has nothing to do with their home, but rather from Dalton. A team of paranormal experts, ghost-hunters Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) and psychic Elise (Lin Shaye), observe Dalton, the family, and their home. They determine that Dalton is trapped on the other side in a dark world they call The Further. The parents team with them to try to bring their boy back from The Further and save him from the clutches of a dark entity that hopes to claim him as his own.

The original follows a similar formula to Poltergeist, where an evil supernatural force abducts Dalton's spirit for their own ends, except they want to possess his physical body for use on this side rather than keep him and his physical body on the otherside. Similar to Poltergiest, Josh must cross over to the otherside (The Further) and rescue Dalton from his prison only with Astral Projection. Unfortunately, Josh can't imagine what dangers await him in this plane of the dead and an old nemesis from his childhood awaits his arrival.

The second film, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on September (Friday the) 13th, 2013 and once again directed by Wan (who also gets story credit with Whannell). It follows the fallout of the first film as the Lamberts try to move on from their previous experiences by moving to the residence of Josh's mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). However, it's soon made clear that the haunting has not yet stopped and in fact increases by a magnitude. The family race through time trying to discover the truth behind it and determine what connection it has with Josh, who seems to become the new target of haunting.

The third film, Insidious: Chapter 3, is a prequel and was released June 5th, 2015. Wan stepped down from the director role (though he remained as a producer for this film and subsequent installments), replaced by Whannell in his directorial debut. The film is set several years before the events of the first film and focuses on Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), an aspiring young theater actress who longs to speak with her deceased mother, Lillith. However, her life takes a turn for the worse when a mysterious entity starts to stalk and physically endanger her. Quinn's father (Dermot Mulroney) and brother contact Specs and Tucker and a jaded Elise, still recovering from the death of her husband, to help them save Quinn.

The fourth film, titled Insidious: The Last Key, was announced in 2016. It was released on January 5th, 2018 and directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan), while Whannell also takes on producing role along with Blum, Peli and Wan. It is an Interquel, set between the events of the third and first films. Elise has been confronted by nightmares about her past back when she was a girl living in an abusive household in the fictional town of Five Keys, New Mexico, before being contacted by a man living in her former home, claiming it to be haunted. She, along with Specs and Tucker, venture out to find out what's going on and to put Elise's past to rest.

The fifth and final installment, titled Insidious: The Red Door, was released on July 7th, 2023. It was directed by Wilson in his directorial debut, with Scott Teems writing the screenplay, based on a story treatment by Whannell. In addition to directing, Wilson reprised his role as Josh alongside Dalton's now-adult actor, Ty Simpkins. The plot picks up a decade after the events of Chapter 2 as Dalton begins college.

This film series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Most of the events in the films don't veer far from 2010, the year the film was first shown (it had a wide release in 2011). Chapter 3 is set "a few years before the Lambert haunting", so probably 2007 or 2008. Flashbacks do take place very far away (some events in Chapter 2 seem to take place in the early 20th century), but they're, well, flashbacks. This is finally averted in The Red Door, which takes place in 2019.
  • The '50s: The prologue of The Last Key is set in 1952. A later flashback that shows 16-year-old Elise is set several years afterward.
  • Aborted Arc: Chapter 2 ends with Specs, Tucker, and Elise visiting a girl who is hinted to be haunted by the Red-Faced Demon. The plot point is not picked up in the chronological sequel, The Red Door, which focuses on the Lamberts while the trio only have very small roles (although it does feature the return of the same Red-Faced Demon).
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Chapter 2: Parker Crane's mother forcing him to dress and act as a girl rather than his own gender identity (male) is already a really bad start, but the fact that she violently abused him whenever he acted like a boy, as well as forcing him to kill people for her multiple times is what really puts her over the edge.
    • Gerald Rainier from The Last Key. Good lord. The opening scene shows merely one of the many times he abused Elise - by hitting her with a stick and locking her in the cellar - due to fearing her powers. Elise was less than 10 years old by this time. It is later revealed that he was influenced by Key Face, but it doesn't make it any less sickening. Making it worse, he may not have been influenced by Key Face at the time.
  • Alien Geometries: The Further. It's accessible only through astral projection, and exists beyond the concepts of space or time.
  • Alliterative Name: The Woman in White and the Bride in Black in Chapter 2.
  • Amicable Exes: In The Red Door, Josh and Renai have divorced, but still maintain a working relationship. Although the kids live with Renai, there are scattered hints that she wanted to share custody, only for his issues to continuously turn himself away.
  • And I Must Scream: A few of them exist from the residents of the Further, given its nature. In Chapter 2, Josh cries out with a piano-bang Jump Scare when Parker Crane prevents him from attempting to contact his family from within the Further-version of his home.
  • Anti-Villain: In the first film, Elise states that most of the lost spirits in the Further want to possess a living body simply because they desperately want to live again.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Handwaved in Chapter 2 when Possessed!Josh is acquitted of strangling Elise due to his possessor changing his fingerprints, conveniently proving that Josh didn't actually do it.
    • In The Last Key, Specs strikes a blow to Ted in the back of the head due to his hostility once Tucker and Specs discover he has abducted someone. Fair enough, but then Specs decides to continue his attack and drop a bookshelf on his head rather than grabbing his firearm. Granted, it was a tense standoff, but Elise's team isn't set back much legally from their questionable use of force.
  • Astral Projection: How Dalton gets lost in The Further, and Josh gets him back.
  • Audible Sharpness: In Chapter 2, when Josh, as possessed by Parker Crane, pulls a knife from behind his back, there is a slight SHING.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • In Chapter 2, Parker Crane. Understandable considering the horrific abuse mother put him through.
    • His mother is off her rocker too, considering what she did to her son, as well as the fact that she tries to strangle Josh to death in the climax with an utterly maniacal Slasher Smile.
  • Bald of Evil: The Red-faced Demon does have some hair, but the top of his head is completely bald.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The third film's premise hinges on Quinn's request for Elise to contact her mother, but this ends up attracting a demon's attention to her. All in all, she does manage to reach Lilith, but it takes a lot of pain and suffering to get there.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Red-Faced Demon in the first film and the last.
    • Chapter 2 has Parker Crane and his mother Michelle Crane.
    • Chapter 3 has The Man Who Can't Breathe.
    • The Last Key has Key Face.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Bride in Black and The Man Who Can't Breathe in Chapter 3. The former is a threat to Elise and the latter to Quinn. They work independently and never share any scenes. At the end, the Red-Faced Demon arrives to challenge Elise as well.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Elise does this twice in Chapter 2, both times to save Josh first from the Long-Haired Fiend, then Michelle Crane.
    • Like Mother, Like Daughter, Elise's mother, Aubrey does this in The Last Key to save her daughter from Key Face.
  • Big Good: Elise, who continues to help the characters fight the malevolent spirits even after her death.
  • Big Red Devil: The Red-Faced Demon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Red Door (Chapter 5) sees the door in question sealed up and Elise meets with Josh one last time to wish him well, and the Lambert family remains on good terms with one another. However, The Stinger reveals that The Red Door, now painted over with black, has a light turn on above it again, implying it may not stay sealed forever.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Michelle Crane sometimes sports these during Chapter 2.
  • Brick Joke: In Chapter 2, as they prepare to try and subdue a possessed Josh, Specs and Tucker have an argument about which code word Carl should use if something should go wrong: "quesadilla" or "unicorn." Carl, annoyed, admonishes them for it. Later on, however, when possessed Josh tries to throttle him:
    Carl: (barely getting the word out) Quesadilla!
  • Broken Bird: Elise in Chapter 3. She seems reluctant to help Quinn contact her mother and just seems downtrodden. It's revealed the reason she's like this is due to the loss of her husband, Jack. She takes up the call once she gets a talk with Carl from Chapter 2. The Last Key also fully establishes she felt like this long before Jack's death, being physically and emotionally abused by her father who didn't understand her powers and witnessing her mother's death after Key Face tricked her into letting it out of the Red Door.
  • Call-Back:
    • Chapter 2 shows us that future Josh's astral form was randomly knocking on the door to the original house in Chapter 1. Josh forced the door open to confront the Long Haired Fiend in the nursery.
    • Young Josh's astral projection sequence from the beginning of the film gets explained twice. Elise lampshades it.
    • The Last Key reveals that the unseen presences Dalton saw in the attic back in the first film are Elise, Imogen, Melissa, and Aubrey.
    • The Red Door shows that Dalton traveled back in time to the end of Chapter 2 and inadvertently left a conjured hammer from his latest painting that Parker Crane picked up to attack young Dalton with. Adult Dalton runs at Josh and shoves him, exorcising Parker from Josh's body. In the present, the hammer in the painting has vanished into thin air.
  • Call-Forward: In Chapter 3, Elise is nearly strangled twice by the Bride in Black. At the end, she tells Tucker and Specs that she will probably die by the demon's hand eventually, which is what happens at the end of the first film.
  • Came Back Strong: Elise and Aubrey are more powerful in death than when in life.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The song Renai plays in the first film is heard again, albeit not played quite as well, in the second film when the piano seemingly starts playing by itself. It's a sign that Josh is trying to communicate with her from within The Further.
    • Christian's whistle in The Last Key. First played innocuously as a memorabilia that both Christian and Elise treasure because it is something given by their deceased mother., who promised that she "would surely come" for them if it is used. Elise later uses it to detect the presence of a woman locked in her house's basement. It comes back in the climax when Elise blows it in desperation. Cue Aubrey kicking the demon's ass.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Bride in Black, Parker Crane, who has a small role in the first film and is the central antagonist in the second film.
    • In Chapter 3, when Elise went into The Further for the first time, she met a crying dead woman who is too afraid to tell her where the Big Bad is. Thinking the woman has nothing to do with the Big Bad, Elise ignored her at the time. Later, it turns out that woman is also the Big Bad's captive and she does know where The Man Who Can't Breathe is.
  • Cliffhanger Wall: Chapter 2 (2013) ends with Elise (now a ghost) noticing a demonic presence lurking in the dark. The next two films Chapter 3 (2015) and The Last Key (2018) were both prequels leaving the cliffhanger as the last chronological event. The cliffhanger is finally broken in The Red Door, which takes place nine years after Chapter 2.
  • Cool Old Lady: Elise, and Lorraine, to lesser extent.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Specs and Tucker wear these, namely a matching set of white button down shirts and black ties.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: In the prequel, one of Quinn's neighbours - although her craziness turns out to be knowledge of the spirits abound. She tries to help Elise after death and eventually succeeds.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The Bride in Black is revealed to be this in the second film due to the psychological abuse inflicted by his mother as a child.
  • Creepy Child: The demon first appears to Renai in the form of a little boy. The cover art also seemed to imply that Dalton was this. Unless you look at his pupil which says Help .
  • Crosscast Role: The old woman haunting Josh is played by a man. Becomes a plot point in the second film.
  • Cruel Twist Ending:
    • At the end of the first film, Josh turns out to have been possessed by the Bride In Black while trying to escape from The Further, who uses his body to murder Elise. It is somewhat mitigated by the following film.
    • The ending to The Last Key suggests that Elise was inadvertently responsible for the events of Chapters 1 and 2, including her own death, by leaving the red door in the Lambert's attic open through The Further, allowing the Red-Faced Demon to come through for Dalton.
  • Decoy Protagonist: A small case, but Melissa and Imogen's introduction in the fourth film clearly sets up the former to be a major character of the film, possibly as Elise's sidekick. Then the demon attacks her and her real body is sent to the hospital in a state of coma, while her real self becomes trapped in the Further. Shortly after, Imogen reveals that she is capable of astral projection. Melissa does not appear again until near the end.
  • Demonic Possession: With Dalton's mind elsewhere, it leaves his body open to this. Josh as well.
  • Demoted to Extra: Elise, Specs, and Tucker have very small roles in the final installment, The Red Door, compared to their appearances in the previous films. Dalton and Chris watch a YouTube clip of Specs' and Tucker's paranormal show (which gets cut off when Dalton plays a video of Elise describing her experiences of going into the Further). In the ending, Elise's apparition briefly appears to Josh for a final parting.
  • Disappeared Dad: Josh's father is nowhere to be seen. Lorraine was already a single mother when Elise met her for the first time in 1986. This plot point is explored in The Red Door, which reveals that Josh's father, Ben Burton, left Lorraine before Josh was born, as he didn't want his astral projection from hurting her.
  • Downer Ending: The first film ends with Josh being possessed by The Bride in Black while trying to escape from The Further, who then uses his body to kill Elise.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Parker Crane (aka the Bride in Black) killed himself by jumping out of a hospital window.
    • In Chapter 3, it turns out that the reason Elise is so unhappy at the beginning is because her husband Jack, who was suffering from depression, took his own life.
    • The Red Door reveals that Josh Lambert's father, Ben Burton, killed himself by jumping from an asylum window so his "gift" would end with him. This turns out to be in vain, however, as Ben had fathered a son who inherited his abilities.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The weird, frightening gas mask apparatus that Elise uses in the first film is not utilized in any of her other seances. Which is strange indeed because they all take place before the events of the first film!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Insidious 2; Josh is finally freed from his possession and Carl hypnotizes him and Josh into forgetting their astral projection abilities, severing the family's ties to The Further for good. One could say the same for Elise, Specs, and Tucker, considering that despite her death, Elise still has contact with the two and they go onto another paranormal case.
    • Insidious 3 likewise ends with this. The Brenner family ultimately come off the haunting unscathed and manage to say goodbye to Lillith. Elise also decides to move from her grief and retakes her job as a parapsychologist.
    • The Last Key continues the tradition as Elise finally reconciles with Christian and his children. She also gets closure about her parents, both of whom appear to protect her while she is being locked in the Further. She also states that as she has found her family again, she no longer fears death, mitigating her death in the first film.
    • The Red Door more then any one in the series ends on a happy note with Josh and Dalton, stopping the demons and also preventing any more supernatural forces from being able to enter their world and torment them. Josh and Dalton reconcile and for that matter Josh seems to be reconciling with the rest of the family. He also gets closure with his deceased /missing father. Finally Elise herself visits Josh briefly telling him he has a great future ahead of him.
  • Everyone Lives: In The Red Door, aside from Lorraine's death prior to the event of the film, there's no human or demon live casualty in the film.
  • Facial Horror: The tall, long-haired ghost (simply credited as Long Haired Fiend) that appears several times throughout the first film. When he's first seen, he looks fairly normal, albeit creepy. In his later appearances, his face appears mutilated to the extent that he's missing his lips and nose. The sequel reveals that the damage was due to Elise burning his face with a lantern.
  • For the Evulz: The Bride in Black in Chapter 3 attacks Elise in The Further just to antagonize her.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on in the first film, Renai mentions to Dalton that they don't have any childhood photos of Josh, and that he's apparently terrible at keeping old photos. It later turns out that there do exist childhood photos of Josh - except the Bride in Black appears in the background of several of them, and these photos were kept hidden from him by Lorraine after his memories of his astral projection ability were suppressed. This is also foreshadowed a bit later on, when Lorraine expresses surprise that Renai was actually able to convince Josh to pose for a family photo.
    • After Dalton bangs his head, he looks towards the far end of the attic at something the audience never gets to see, which then makes a horrible cracking sound. In the fourth film we see that what he was looking at was Elise and her party looking in on him from within The Further.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The little ghost boy can be briefly seen before his more obvious appearances. He's simply standing facing a wall.
    • In the sequel, the Mother can likewise be seen sitting down quietly before Renai encounters her.
  • Grand Theft Me: Between Josh and the Bride in Black.
  • Groin Attack:
    • In Chapter 2, Lorraine recalls that Parker Crane was admitted to hospital after trying to castrate himself.
    • Played for Laughs earlier in the same film when Tucker bangs his crotch into a table in Elise's reading room.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Red Door effectively undoes the happy ending of Chapter 2 (in which Josh decides to have his and Dalton's astral projecting abilities be hypnotized away, so they can live normally). The film reveals that the stress of keeping Josh and Dalton from remembering their experiences while simultaneously preventing Foster from relieving the memory of Josh trying to kill them all led to the breakdown of Josh's and Renai's marriage, and their eventual divorce. Fast forward to nine years later, not only is Josh estranged from his family, he has an especially rocky relationship with Dalton, who has grown up to become a shut-in introvert. Lorraine has died, and Josh struggles to pick up the pieces because his repressed memories are still haunting him. Then the demon comes back...
  • Hate Plague: Key Face from The Last Key transforms patriarchs who live in the Rainier house into Ax-Crazy abusers who would lock women inside a hidden room in the cellar, where they would kill them, let the demon take their spirits to the Further, and then hide their remains in suitcases lodged in the ventilation. This happened not just to Gerald (who kidnapped and killed Anna) and Ted Garza (who kidnapped and almost kills Mara, but the latter is saved at the last second), but numerous other men in the past.
  • Haunted House: Subverted. The Lamberts only think they have this problem.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Chronologically, the Bride In Black is the first powerful entity Elise is shown to have defeated in the series and since then he's been trying to overtake her investigations whenever possible.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The red-faced demon, and, to a lesser extent, many of the ghosts.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Further is full of tormented and/or malicious dead, and they can sense if an astral projector is still among the living, so it's best to be stealthy so that they don't go hunting for your body.
  • Immediate Sequel: Barring the prologue, Chapter 2 starts very shortly after the ending of the first film, with the police questioning Renai in the aftermath of the death of Elise, and how Josh might have something to do with it.
  • In the Blood:
    • Dalton's ability to astral project was inherited from Josh. The Red Door reveals that Josh inherited it from his father, Ben Burton.
    • The Rainier family turns out to pass on astral projection to their children as well. Elise has it, and while her brother doesn't, one of his daughters, Imogen, does. That would mean that Aubrey possessed it, as well, which is all but stated; although she acted frightened when Elise showed her powers back then, it was because because she feared for the abuse she would receive from Gerald. She shows up in the climax of The Last Key to defeat Key Face using a lantern in the Further, like Elise did in Chapter 2.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • The demons in these films just enjoy children's toys/music, by the looks of it.
    • In Chapter 2, Renai sees the Woman in White singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
  • Jump Scare: This film is filthy with them, but that doesn't make them necessarily bad. On the DVD special features, in a short documentary called "Horror 101", the creators say they were specifically trying to avoid the conventional "jump scare" which comes out of nowhere, carries no suspense whatsoever, and has no real meaning or effect on the plot; all the jump scares in Insidious are quite carefully built up to, and all of them serve to further the story.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • In The Last Key, the audience is never shown Gerald's death in the real world, possibly due to old age. The irony is that he is probably the only member of the Rainier family that the audience wishes a torturous death.
    • The Red Door opens with the funeral of Lorraine Lambert.
  • Lecherous Licking: In his appearance at the seance, the Long Haired Fiend grabs a horrified Renai and forcefully licks her face.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In The Last Key, a day after her arrival at Five Keys, Elise stumbles upon her brother, Christian, whom she knows very well, yet have separated for years, as well his daughters, Imogen and Melissa, whom she does not know about until meeting them.
  • Mama Bear: Aubrey Rainier, Elise's mother. In life and in death. Elise plays Christian's whistle and, out of nowhere, there she is, bypassing the spirit world and the Further in the blink of an eye. She proceeds to One-Hit Kill Key Face, a demon that previously defeated three people working in unison.
    Aubrey: Hands off my little girl.
  • A Minor Kidroduction:
    • Chapter 2 opens with Elise's first meeting with Lorraine and Josh Lambert, the latter still a boy Dalton's age, twenty four years before the events of the first film.
    • The opening of The Last Key is set in 1952, when Elise was still a little girl.
  • Missing Mom: Lillith Brenner from Chapter 3 died tragically due to disease, leaving her husband and two children behind. Quinn attempting to contact her kick starts the film's plot.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: In The Red Door, Dalton slips into the Further while in his dorm room, encounters a spirit, and ends up on the floor sweating with the bedsheet covering him just as his co-ed roommate walks in.
  • Murder-Suicide: While in the Further towards the end of the first film, Josh sees this play out with the Smiling Family.
  • My Beloved Smother: Parker Crane has this, as well as being full-on abusive. She continues to have a hold on him even after her death.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Elise, when she finds out that the black-haired woman she encountered in her house as a teenager wasn't a ghost, but was very much alive and was trying to escape from the basement. Elise assumed she was another mangled spirit and didn't try to help her.
  • My Nayme Is: "Cali" (Cally) and "Renai" (Renée).
  • Nay-Theist: Possibly Elise. When she is handed a Bible in The Last Key while investigating, she casually puts it down. Though it is probably because she knows that the Bible does not work against this particular kind of demon.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Made more apparent in Chapter 3 where after getting a pep talk with Carl, Elise goes to the Further to rescue Quinn while kicking the undead asses of the entities there like a boss. See her lay the smackdown on the Bride in Black with her even making a Bring It gesture against her in the final moments of the fight as the best example.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Chapter 3 was advertised as "going back to the beginning". Somewhat true. The film does show us how Elise met Specs and Tucker but the main plot of the film, and the characters, have nothing to do with the first two films.
  • New House, New Problems:
    • Actually happens twice, after the family tries moving.
    • And when they leave their second house to stay with Lorraine while the police work on it, Lorraine's house becomes haunted as well. Justified, as the spirits are haunting people, not houses.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Chapter 2 explains that someone murdered Elise Ranier, but it was nobody who was present at the time of death. This is because Parker Crane was in control of Josh's body at the time of the murder, which altered it in a way that it was as if Parker Crane was there incarnate to do the deed.
    • Chapter 3 shows that possession may grant the victim Healing Factor of all things, which greatly accelerates Quinn's broken bone healing. It isn't clarified if this power is unique to The Man Who Can't Breathe, but given he wants to kill Quinn and is some sort of demon-human, it's quite an unusual power. This is notable as Parker Crane's effect on the living is a negative healing factor.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Josh, instead of fleeing straight back to his physical body, spots the Bride in Black still stalking him and yells at her to leave him alone. This unfortunately only allows the Bride to steal his body and leave Josh's astral body trapped in the Further.
    • After Dalton and Josh are hypnotized by Carl into "forgetting" about their astral projection abilities and the related topics, The Red Door reveals they are both still in danger because their astral projection is still activating but their memory suppression just makes dealing with these problems more difficult due to their inability to immediately act from past experience. During the opening of The Red Door, Carl making himself visible to Josh makes Josh wonder if he knows him, which also helps start the chain of events.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Although the scene itself is terrifying and she has to fight tooth and nails to regain her own body, the Man Who Can't Breathe actually heals Quinn's leg and neck injuries that would otherwise take months (or even years) to heal naturally.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Dalton's drawings turn out to be images he drew of his experiences in the Further.
  • Nom de Mom: The Red Door confirms that Josh Lambert indeed took Lorraine's surname; he never knew his father, Ben Burton, who left Lorraine before he was born.
  • No Ontological Inertia: In Chapter 2, "defeating" the ghost of Parker Crane (essentially like a separate entity) also disables Possessed!Josh until Josh's spirit can return to his body. In a subversion however, The Red Door reveals that Adult!Dalton remembered this event through his artwork and revisited it in The Further, inadvertantly leaving the hammer that materialized from his paining in sight for the Parker Crane to try as a murder weapon. Dalton shoves Possessed!Josh to stop him from killing Child!Dalton, forcing Parker Crane out of Josh's body.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Subverted. Upon encountering the Bride in Black for the first time since childhood, Josh starts yelling this almost word-for-word at her and appears to actually drive her off. Unfortunately, this doesn't work. All it does is allow the Bride enough time to possess Josh's physical body and leave his soul trapped in the Further.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: In the prequel, Quinn is terrified to see a faceless woman crawling on the ground towards her. It is revealed however that that woman is part of her soul -the part taken by the Man Who Cant Breathe- and as such is most likely that she was just trying to go back to her body.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The Dancing Boy scene can be extremely scary, because: 1) It happened during a sunny day instead of a dark night. 2) He even hides in the comatose Dalton's room's closet! Imagine if your child is in the same room with an entity from another world. 4) Well, just see the Freeze-Frame Bonus. Unless your eyes are sharp enough, you probably won't even realize he was there in the first place. 6) This is also the first scene which made the song "Tiptoe through the Tulips" become scary in the film. Later when this song is played again, you know something bad is going to happen.
    • When the Renai goes to check on Cali during the night and there is a man standing just behind the crib. Due to where the camera is focused and the curtains, he blends into the background. It's only after she looks up that you realize he was there from the moment she had walked into the room.
    • The cliffhanger from the end of the sequel.
  • Offscreen Afterlife: Chapter 2 strongly implies that Elise was in Heaven, or a similar dimension, before willingly returning to the Further to help Josh once again.
  • Offscreen Breakup: The Red Door reveals that Josh and Renai divorced during the nine-year timeskip between it and Chapter 2.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Done by the Smiling Family.
  • Oh, Crap!: Elise, given her usual demeanor and motions in dealing with the supernatural, gives this face when something more sinister than imaginable comes into play. And, given her reaction at the end of Chapter 2...
  • Once More, with Clarity: Chapter 2: Elise's taped interview with Josh in 1986 is revisited in person via astral projection, explaining a young Josh's cryptic line, "I'll show you."
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • In Chapter 2, Renai becomes even more suspicious of Josh when he doesn't recognise the tune that's been playing on the piano: one of the songs she wrote for him.
    • In Chapter 3, Elise encounters her deceased husband, Jack, in the Further, who tries to persuade her to kill herself so they can be together again. Elise knows that Jack would never ask her to do such a thing, revealing that this entity is actually the The Man Who Can't Breathe in disguise.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Tucker and Specs provide much of the humor in the series.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Tucker and Specs start out as amateur ghost hunters online, and get more serious about the business when Elise takes them under her wing. Operating under the name Spectral Sightings, they show up once the protagonists of the movies realize they need specialists for their supernatural predicament.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Elise receives a particularly brutal one from the demon during a seance. She survives it none too worse for the wear though.
  • Possession Burnout: Josh's body begins to deteriorate after being possessed by the Bride in Black. It goes back to normal when his soul returns to his body.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Other than the Soundtrack Dissonance, pretty much the entire soundtrack in the second half of the film.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Well, deader. Gerald's spirit defends Elise from Key Face and becomes impaled in the process. He says sorry and vanishes, presumably ceasing from existence.
  • Rogues Gallery: With the Red-Faced Demon, the Bride In Black, the Longhaired Fiend, and Key Face, the franchise has a very distinctive array of supernatural villains with very unique appearances and abilities, and some of them continue to show up and cause trouble even in stories where they are not the primary villain.
  • Scare Chord: Plenty of them.
  • Scenery Dissonance:
    • The demon first appears to Lorraine in the front room of the Lamberts' second house in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
    • Same for Chapter 2 with the Woman in White. She appears to Renai, nearly steals the baby, and knocks her out in the full bright of day.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The final shot of the first film sets up the plot of the second film.
    • The second film has a similar ending with Elise (presumably) seeing the Red-Faced Demon from the first film again, as a sound effect associated with him plays during this moment.
    • The third film – a prequel – ends with Elise and her dog discovering a presence at her door... only for the Red-Faced Demon to Jump Scare out from behind her.
    • The fourth film's hook is an even more direct version of the third. Elise wakes up from her nightmare of Dalton being haunted by the Red-Faced Demon and receives a call from Lorraine who tells her, as she has predicted, that Dalton needs help.
    • The Fifth Film teases in The Stinger that the although The Red Door was sealed by being painted over with black, it may reopen as a force (Maybe The Red Face Demon) turned the door's overhead light back on.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In an allusion to James Wan and Leigh Whannell's past career, a chalk drawing of Billy the Puppet from Saw can be seen in the classroom's blackboard at the scene where Josh sits behind his teacher's desk.
    • In the scene where Lorraine recounts her dream about a demon in Dalton's, we see a shadow of the demon that looks similar to a silhouette of Freddy Krueger thanks to the blade-like hands and fedora-like item on their head. Additionally, the whole danger of astral projectors falling asleep and becoming vulnerable to the dead is similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street where the kids falling asleep makes them vulnerable to being slain by Freddy.
    • In the scene where Elise tries to make contact with a dreaming Dalton, the gas mask she puts on looks exactly like the one used by Dream of the Endless.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: Demonstrated instead of stated. Once the Lambert family catches on that they are living in a haunted house and that the spirit in question is malevolent, they immediately move the hell away. Unfortunately, the spirit just follows them to their new home and escalates, leading to them trying the more risky solution of exorcising it.
  • Slasher Smile: A few of the spirits have them, most notably the Doll Girls. The Bride in Black sports a particularly maniacal one, too, as does Michelle Crane.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "Tiptoe to the window, by the window, that is where I'll be, come tiptoe through the tulips with me..."
    • "Row, row, row your boat . . ."
  • Spooky Photographs: In the first chapter, these signify the ever approaching presence of the Old Woman in Black throughout the photos of Josh, and sets up the unfortunate reveal at it's end. In the second, while his body is occupied by the spirit, Josh consults his younger self—taking place in 1986—while in The Further, setting himself as the spirit when caught in a recorded still of that moment!
  • Spooky Séance: Elise convinces the family to try this so she can bring back Dalton's spirit.
  • Stable Time Loop: Earlier events can be influenced by The Further existing outside of time and space. This leads to twists like Josh Lambert "helping" his past self, and Elise and company accidentally leaving a door open that kicks off the events of Chapter 1.. The Red Door reveals that Dalton saved the day from Possessed!Josh by shoving him and forcing Parker Crane out of Josh's body inadvertently, even saving the life of himself in the past. In a bizarre twist, Dalton goes back in time by picking up the hammer from his painting after it transforms into a real hammer, and Possessed!Josh picks it up as his weapon of choice after Adult!Dalton sets it down and forgets about it.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl:
    • In Chapter 3, the ghostly crawling version of Quinn that appears in the Further is straight out of a Japanese horror movie.
    • The fourth film has a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl haunting Elise's childhood home. In a twist, she is actually just a lost soul, was alive when Elise first met her, and is perfectly willing to lead Imogen to the Further.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Elise mistakes Melissa for Aubrey because they look similar. She is actually her niece, or in other words, Aubrey's granddaughter.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: At first. Later it is revealed that the reason he was ignoring the evidence was that he too was haunted when he was young. Then again in the second film, where Josh repeatedly insists that their ghost troubles are over and nothing is wrong, but subverted. It's actually Parker Crane in Josh's body saying that, because he doesn't want them to start investigating and realize he isn't Josh.
  • Tempting Fate: Chapter 3 has Elise discussing with Specs and Tucker that she'll probably die by the demon's hands eventually. The Last Key likewise has Elise tempting death again, stating that as she has now found her family, she no longer has any fear of death.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Some of Josh's teeth fall out when his physical body is possessed by Parker Crane.
  • Those Two Guys: Specs and Tucker, in all four films.
  • Title Drop: Done by Elise. While some spirits in The Further can be benign ghosts, others have "a more insidious agenda."
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Dalton, in the sequel. He saves his mother from being killed by a possessed Josh with a ball bat before diving into the Further to lead his father back to his body.
    • Elise in all three films but most especially in Chapter 3 where she gives the Bride in Black a nice ass-kicking for having the gall to get in her way while she's trying to save Quinn.
  • Took the Wife's Name: Jack's surname in Chapter 3 is stated in the credits to be "Rainier", suggesting that Elise adopted his surname after marriage. But The Last Key reveals that "Rainier" is Elise's surname from birth, meaning that he adopted her surname (or by some coincidence, they both had the same surname without being related).
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Josh, though he didn't die from it. Before going back to his body after retrieving Dalton from The Further, he met the Bride in Black that tried to possess him when he was 8. With not much time left, he chose to confront her instead of continuing on his way. In the end, the few seconds he lost prevented him from coming back in our world, and lead to Elise's demise.
    • Meanwhile, Elise, suspecting that Josh is possessed by the Bride in Black blows her pretense of ignorance by snapping a photo of Josh's body which guarantee's that the Bride becomes enraged and strangles her to death. The film prequels even make it clear that Elise had previous encounters with the Bride in Black and was threatened by them making her death feel at least delay-able by not letting on that she senses something off about Josh's body. The main consolation is that Elise is Only Mostly Dead even in spite of losing her physical body, able to aid her allies in spirit and thus still affect the plot as if she never died.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: "It's not the house that's haunted. It's your son."
  • Trapped on the Astral Plane: What happens to Dalton, with soul trapped in The Further and the other characters have to help him get back into his body before some other malevolent spirits try to take possession of it for themselves.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Elise's life story is nothing but this. When she was a kid, she was emotionally and physically abused by her father, who told her that no one would love someone like her, because he hated and feared her powers. Her mother died because she unwittingly let a demon into their house, something that continues to haunt her into old age, and her father, predictably, blamed her. Years afterward, she finally snapped and ran away from home. While Elise later married Jack and had a good life, that ended when Jack committed suicide. She's coaxed by helping Quinn Brenner to help contact the latter's mother, which almost gets Elise killed. Then when she tries to make amends to her brother after visiting home to search for its haunting ghost, her brother lashes out at her for abandoning him to deal with their father's abuse alone. Her niece almost immediately gets killed by the spirit haunting her childhood home, which turns out to be the same spirit who possessed her abusive father and had him kill and dismember women in their basement. She goes through this and finally gets closure from her remaining family...then she's called by Lorraine Lambert, whose son Elise helped be free of the Bride in Black when he was a boy, to help her haunted grandson Dalton. We know how this ends.
    • Josh's situation as of the start of The Red Door. He's divorced from Renai and estranged from his children, particularly Dalton, who wants nothing to do with him. His mother has just died, leaving him all alone. His repressed memories of astral projecting and possession by ghosts have emotionally and physically drained him, but the amnesia means that he has no idea why. Just when it couldn't get any worse, the Red-Faced Demon returns to terrorize Dalton, seemingly wanting to finish what he started years ago.
  • True Companions: Elise, Specs, and Tucker. The three obviously make a remarkable team of investigators, to the point where in Chapter 2 she's still with Specs and Tucker even when she's dead. Chapter 3 shows how they met for the first time and at the end of the story, they agree to work together.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: In The Red Door, Josh, who emotionally estranged himself from Renai and their kids after his divorce, decides to give Dalton a ride to college. What should have been a heartwarming reconciliation turns nasty when the two end up having a fight. They do not reconcile until near the end of the film, when the return of the Red-Faced Demon forces them to work together.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Specs and Tucker spend a lot of time being snarky and bickering, but are shown to truly care about each other.
  • Wall Crawl: The red-faced demon briefly does this towards the end of the first film, when chasing after Dalton.
  • Wham Shot: Elise discovering in The Last Key that it's not just Mara and Anna who became victims of her house's Hate Plague when she spots a suitcase containing human remains a few feet from Anna's suitcase. As she crawls deeper, she discovers another suitcase, then another, then another...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the first film, Foster and Cali don't really appear again after the family moves into the second house. It's briefly mentioned that they are staying with Lorraine.
    • For that matter, the young boy apparition disappears halfway through the film. However, since some of the apparitions in the first film are explained through ghostly time travel in the second film, it's possible that he, too, will be explained later.
    • In the third film, Quinn's friends basically disappear after she becomes disabled and stuck at home. Maggie's last scene is during a video chat shortly after Quinn's release from the hospital, while Hector's is even earlier, during the birthday party. He does text Quinn in a pivotal moment preceding a major Jump Scare scene, but that's the last time we hear of him.
  • Wolverine Claws: The demon has them.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Chapter 2: Parker Crane, who in spite of his monstrous actions, is pitiable, courtesy of his horrible backstory.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Insidious Chapter 2, Insidious Chapter 3, Insidious The Last Key, Insidious The Red Door



Photographs revealed the presence of The Bride in Black.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpookyPhotographs

Media sources: