Ty Simpkins first appeared in the original Insidious film at the tender age of nine as Dalton Lambert; a young boy who entered a coma and fought with demons in ‘The Further.’
Asleep for much of the film with his dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) battling for his soul, Simpkins sported a range of delightful pyjamas including a matching pair of monkey and banana ones with his mum, Renai (Rose Byrne). It was a delightful touch from the pair behind the film, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, and one that has stuck with fans of the franchise.
So the pressing question has to be: Does he still have those pyjamas? Simpkins laughs at this, saying, “I remember them being very comfy. I don’t remember if I got to keep those ones in particular. There were a lot of pyjamas and I did keep some of them but I can’t remember if I kept the banana and monkey ones. Those were my favourite though. Would I still wear them now? If they were a lot bigger then yes, I would!”
For the fifth entry in the franchise Insidious: The Red Door, directed by Patrick Wilson in his feature debut, Simpkins returns as Dalton who is heading off to art college. The family are now fractured, with Josh and Renai separated, and the film explores a tumultuous father-son dynamic.
Wilson has reunited the original cast which says a lot about the kind of relationships formed on this horror franchise, and Simpkins reveals he was first handed the outline for the film (written by Leigh Whannell) when he was still in high-school.
Patrick Wilson is also in great spirits when we speak to him via zoom from New York, and is particularly passionate about why he decided he wanted to make this film. It was a labour of love carved from the original outline that he has been working on for years. It’s also a film where, just like in The Conjuring 2, he couldn’t resist exercising his famous vocal cords, so don’t jump out of your seat at the end as Wilson belts out his version of Shakespears Sister ‘Stay’ – which he performs with metal band Ghost – over the closing credits.
When he brought the outline to screenwriter Scott Teems, he explained what he wanted for the film: “I want to talk about fathers and sons. I want to talk about the violence of men. I wanted to make Dalton an art student. I picked all these themes that I knew I related to.
“I went to a theatre school, I know what it’s like to have someone grill you to be the best you and all this stuff that happens at an art school where you’re trying to get to the truth of who you are. What a great metaphor for a coming-of-age story for a kid battling his own demons that we all battle in college… his are just actual demons.”
Alongside the original cast, a new character appears in the form of Dalton’s college roommate, Chris, who provides humour amid all the horror. Newcomer Sinclair Daniel takes on the role, and explains to us why she did: “I’m a long-term fan of this series and I think that Chris is such a cool character for these dark and heavy stories. She’s light and bright and I was excited to bring that into these movies.”
Indeed, for his feature debut, Wilson is playing with light and dark in both metaphorical and technical terms. “I wanted daylight scares. I will tell you some people did not want me to have daylight scares! But I wanted a different feel for this. I wanted to keep the audience guessing.
“Look, things at night are scary, we get that, and we get a lot of that, especially in the Insidious world. We are also going into the dark and into The Further so I knew we always had that. This whole movie really is about light and dark. So if I have these scares in the darkness I really wanted it in the daytime as well. That presents a different challenge as a director.”
He continues explaining, “I love In the Mouth of Madness. There’s a scene in that I love where the guy with the axe is coming across the street. You see that? It’s not scaring you, you see him coming the entire way but it’s also terrifying because you don’t expect him to come through the window. And he comes through the window!
“I wanted to open the door for Insidious movies and just do different stuff. I’m never gonna repeat the guy behind my back; James [Wan] has put people behind my back for a long time so… that’s probably one of the best scares ever in a horror movie… so I wanted to do something different.”
Insidious: The Red Door will be in cinemas on 7 July.