(director: Patrick Wilson; screenwriters: Scott Teems/story by Leigh Whannell; cinematographer: Autumn Eakin; editors: Michel Aller/Derek Ambrosi; music: Joseph Bishara; cast: Patrick Wilson (Josh Lambert), Ty Simpkins (Dalton Lambert), Rose Byrne (Renai Lambert), Sinclair Daniel (Chris Winslow), Hiam Abbass (Prof. Armagan), Andrew Astor (Foster Lambert); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jason Blum/Oren Peli/James Wan/Leigh Whannell; Screen Gems; 2023-Canada/USA)

“I saw nothing in it that isn’t average or below average.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The actor in the franchise’s first two films, Patrick Wilson, makes in the franchise’s fifth film in a decade his directing debut while also co-starring. All the horror films in the series are underwhelming as is this muddled Poltergeist-like horror story. But the box office has been big for such dreck (for some reason I don’t get, as each film has made over $100m).

It is murkily written by Scott Teems and is based on the story by Leigh Whannell (who directed one of the better sequels).

In the current film, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) is now divorced from Renai (Rose Byrne) and his mother Loraine has just died leaving him questioning his past and still shaken that a demonic possession has destroyed his family. The entire Lambert family has undergone therapeutic hypnosis.

Josh’s son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins reprising his role), is entering art school. It’s Josh’s desire to fix their fractured relationship and begins the healing process by dropping him off by car at the college campus and helping him move in.

Dalton’s new roommate Chris (Sinclair Daniel) turns out to be a girl. She never gets around to correcting the dorm housing mistake, just like the film’s choppy editing doesn’t get around to fix its problems.

After hallucinating, without taking drugs, Dalton draws a red door. With Chris he investigates the meaning of the red door and his strange visions,  which he realizes has something to do with his family’s troubled past.

Mental illness problems arise but are dismissed, as the kid can’t handle his painful memories. The film’s theme is that he must learn to face his problems because blocking them out will not help.

The film dickers too much with trivial things before it gets to the gist of its story. Also the scares are not there (except when Dalton has an hallucination of a monster while undergoing an MRI).

It’s a dull film that’s B-film forgettable. I saw nothing in it that isn’t average or below average.

REVIEWED ON 7/15/2023  GRADE: C+