Insidious 5 stars talk astral projection, being directed by Patrick Wilson, and the movie's scariest ghoulies

Ty Simpkins as Dalton in Insidious: The Red Door
(Image credit: Sony/Blumhouse)

"It was a lot more work," lead Ty Simpkins says of Insidious: The Red Door, which brings back the franchise's original protagonists for the first time in 10 years. "It was a lot of fun. There were a lot more lines but that's fun to play around with, and Dalton is fully formed and complex now. It was a fun challenge."

Back in 2010, Simpkins spent much of Insidious's three-week shoot pretending to be in a coma, while his character Dalton's spirit wandered the spook-filled dimension we'd later come to know as The Further. Its sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, gave him a bit more to do but even that was still very little in comparison to his role in The Red Door.  

Helmed by first-time director Patrick Wilson, who also returns as Dalton's father Josh, the new horror flick catches up with the Lamberts nine years after we saw them last. After their run-in with the Lipstick-Face Demon and Josh's possession almost a decade prior, the family has fractured. Josh and Renai (Rose Byrne) have separated, Josh's mother Lorraine has recently passed away, and Dalton is planning on moving miles away to attend a prestigious art school. Triggered by his newfound isolation, Josh starts being plagued by terrifying visions – and having been hypnotized at end of Chapter 2 to forget all that happened in the previous year, he can't work out what they mean.

In an attempt to reconnect with Dalton, Josh offers to drive him to school, but the youngster soon finds their foggy past coming back to haunt him, too, when his pushy professor prompts him to look inward to inspire his work. While he's not asleep for the majority of the movie this time around, Simpkins still has little dialogue, as most of his scenes either take place in front of an easel or in The Further. Surprisingly, though, he kind of dug not needing to rely on words for his performance.

"It's an interesting thing, because it does seem a lot harder to have to just show everything in your face, but for me that's actually a lot easier than to memorize a bunch of lines and stuff," Simpkins tells GamesRadar+

"That came more naturally to me. Patrick is a very technical director, too, and he can tell you what you need to do physically to emote whatever it is your character is feeling, and then all you really need to worry about is what your face looks like. It seamlessly kind of fell into place."

Ty Simpkins as Dalton in Insidious: The Red Door

(Image credit: Sony/Blumhouse)

When Simpkins does have a scene partner, it's predominantly Sinclair Daniel's Chris, a fellow freshman who gets assigned the same dorm room as him on account of her non gender-specific name. The pair hit it off fast, with Chris's no-holds-barred attitude bringing Dalton out of his shy shell, while the actors bonded just as quickly off-camera.

"I remember the first time I met Sinclair, besides the audition, we were just sitting around a table and eating breakfast and then we just started talking," Simpkins recalls. "As the days went on, the conversations grew and got more in depth and then we just became buddies."

"You do so much alone in this movie," Daniel chimes in. "And, you know, we have similar interests and we're similar ages so we were like, 'We're here. There's two of us, and luckily, nobody's too cagey.' We just kind of made each other laugh and that was that."

"I was having a good time," laughs Daniel, when we ask what it was like to be the film's comic relief. "You know, Patrick is such a funny person and he loves horror so much. So he was able to really guide both of those things with equal strength. The jokes, I always I was looking forward to them, you know?  Ty had to be in these like, dark mental states all the time, so in our downtime, I was encouraging him to lighten up and snap out of it almost," she adds. "I think naturally, in real life, if you met somebody who was kind of downtrodden and you're trying to be their friend, you'd try and make some jokes. So it felt good."

To try and work out what's going on with him, Dalton and Chris stumble across the term 'astral projection' in the movie, a theory that suggests a person's consciousness can travel to another realm while they're snoozing. When he's first rediscovering how to do it, Dalton sneaks into Chris's bedroom and tries to play her melodica, but where would Simpkins and Daniel go if they had the chance to do so in secret?

"I think I'd go to the Met archive. All these museums have these vaults of things that aren't even on the floor," Daniels confesses. "I think I'd like to go walk around there."

Sinclair Daniel as Chris in Insidious: The Red Door

(Image credit: Sony/Blumhouse)

"That's a good one. That's a really good one," says Simpkins. "I don't know, I'd probably do that but with the Smithsonian in DC because of all the space stuff."

Unfortunately for Dalton and Chris, however, the former's dabble with astral projection leads them to face to face with some dead nasties instead, including the franchise's existing baddies Michelle and The Bride in Black, and a particularly grisly newbie in the form of a deceased fraternity bro.

"It was all SpaghettiOs," Simpkins jokes, referring to the caked-on vomit down the ill-fated student's chin and chest, before Daniel admits she was personally most afraid of a bendy ghoulie that slinks out of a closet towards the end of the movie.

"She scared me the most because she's an actual contortionist. So everything she was doing, we were seeing in real time. She's my favourite and least favourite at the same time," she says, jolting herself as if she'd just fallen victim to a jump-scare. Hey, it wouldn't be Insidious without one. 

Insidious: The Red Door is in cinemas now. For more, check out our interview with actor-director Patrick Wilson. If horror isn't your bag, get up to speed with the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way throughout 2023 and beyond.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.