Ty Simpkins was eight years old the first time he ended up in the clutches of the Lipstick-Face Demon. In 2010’s Insidious, Simpkins played the comatose youngster Dalton Lambert, whose condition was eventually explained as a side effect of his astral projection into a dark realm known as The Further. Spooky!
Insidious became one of the best horror movies of the 2010s and spawned a super-successful big-screen franchise that has now given us five Insidious movies. The newest installment, The Red Door, sees Simpkins return as Dalton for the first time in a decade, with both him and dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) finally accessing their long-buried memories of demons, possessions, and murder.
For Simpkins, who is now 21, the call to return to The Further came as a shock. “I thought I was completely done with the franchise, but I’m more than happy to go back,” he told The Digital Fix. His on-screen dad Wilson is also behind the camera this time as director, and that was a big selling point for Simpkins making more new movies in the series.
He said: “I always find that my best performances come out when I’m very close with the director. Patrick has played my dad in four movies now over the course of my lifetime. The first time I worked with him, I think I was three. So I’ve known him my whole life, and it’s a very nice thing to have a director you can trust that much at the helm.”
Simpkins and Wilson are joined by the franchise’s longest-running hero, Lin Shaye reprising her role as the talented medium, Elise. She was brutally killed at the end of the first movie but appeared via The Further in Insidious Chapter 2 and has since led the Insidious cast in two prequels. This time, she appears in a brief but important role.
“I’m always surprised when I get asked to do things. I’m grateful for that,” said Shaye, who describes her character as “a very dear friend of mine.” There’s a reason she has now played Elise five times, in amongst a filmography of more than 100 credits. Shaye absolutely adores this character and the amount of demons she gets to yell at.
She said: “The character is very fascinating and sort of timeless. The ghost world is very open to anything. There are no boundaries. I think it’s very rare to have a character who is given freedom of enclosure. She’s boundless.”
There’s new blood this time around, too. The plot follows Dalton to college, where a rooming mix-up leads him to meet fellow student Chris (Sinclair Daniel). Reluctantly at first, she comes along with Dalton as he uncovers the dark secrets of his past. Before long, she’s screaming at demonic chaos with the rest of us.
Of joining an already established cast, Daniel said: “You watch these movies as a kid, and I think you dream, but you don’t really think you’re going to be in those movies with those people you grew up watching. It was intimidating but very quickly made fun.”
While the likes of Wilson, Simpkins, and Shaye are established horror veterans and very tough to scare, Daniel said there was at least one day on set that really tested her ability to keep the fear in check. “There’s a point where we had some very impressive contortionists on set. I’m not a big joint-poppy person anyway, so when someone’s coming at you walking on their upside-down hands and stuff, that got me a little bit. It was impressive but definitely scary.”
Sounds pretty chilling to us. Maybe we’re not cut out for a role in these movies. Daniel, though, is in a better place than we are. “Watching it back, I remember when that scream happened and I remember running into that wall, then I had a turkey sandwich for lunch,” she said. Not too traumatized by her brush with limb-twisting demons then.
As for the future, Simpkins said he’s up for more Insidious now that he’s been bitten by the horror bug again. Shaye, meanwhile, is absolutely brimming with ideas for what Elise could do next from beyond the grave. Death is absolutely not an obstacle in the world of Insidious, after all.
She said: “Now she’s in The Further, there are all kinds of places to explore. I think about female demons that she finds and having a woman’s universe of evil, which definitely is out there. I have story ideas and whether they ever come to fruition, that part I don’t know. I can’t finance them myself, but I can certainly tell a story to someone. I think Elise has a lot of places to go if all of the elements come together.“
Well, given how much of a demon-fighting badass Elise has become over the last decade of Hollywood’s best ghost movies, we wouldn’t bet against her in the future. Lipstick-Face beware because Lin Shaye is coming for you.
For more of Hollywood’s best movies to scare you silly, check out our guides to the best Netflix horror movies, the best body horror movies, and the best zombie movies. That’s enough to terrify anybody.
Alternatively, find out how Stephen King saved the Evil Dead franchise and learn about The Conjuring 2 true story if you don’t fancy sleeping tonight. You can also find out about the obscure horror movie Tom Hanks made his debut in. It’s a real curio.