Every Movie In The Insidious Franchise, Ranked

The "Insidious" franchise shows no signs of stopping. There's both a spin-off movie and a new sequel on the way, and the most recent entry, "The Red Door," was a big hit in 2023. And for the most part, this horror series has remained strong. Not every film works, but the majority of the entries are solid scare-fests full of all sorts of spooky mayhem. The series kicked-off all the way back in 2011 with James Wan's "Insidious," and now here we are all these years later, still waiting for more. With that in mind, why don't we go back through the entire franchise so far and rank the titles, from worst to best? Come along with us into the Further and watch out for jump-scares. 

5. Insidious: The Last Key

The "Insidious" franchise did a curious thing: it introduced a character, killed her off, and then kept bringing her back over and over again anyway. That character is Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), a psychic medium who has the ability to see the dead. Here's the problem, though: Elise works better as a supporting character, and making her a main player doesn't really click. This is evident by "Insidious: The Last Key," the least successful entry in the franchise, which is the most Elise-forward story in the franchise. This film shows us Elise's backstory and has her dealing with a haunting in her childhood home. Unfortunately, it's never very scary or interesting. Ultimately, this is the most skippable entry in the series. 

4. Insidious: Chapter 2

After the first "Insidious" became a hit, a sequel was inevitable. Unfortunately, when James Wan returned with "Insidious: Chapter 2," he stumbled. This sequel makes the grave mistake of over explaining everything. Anything even remotely mysterious about the first film is explained away here, and the explanations are rather boring! It actually robs the first film of a lot of its power, because all the stuff that was spooky and unknowable in the first "Insidious" has an uninspired explanation here. I really like Wan as a filmmaker, but this is a rare misfire from the horror director. That said, there is some fun to be had here — Patrick Wilson is really going for it, playing a possessed guy running amok. 

3. Insidious: The Red Door

A back-to-basics story, and a legacy sequel to boot, "Insidious: The Red Door" returns to the Lambert family, the characters featured prominently in the first two films. Thanks to hypnosis, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) don't remember all the terrifying stuff that happened to them in the first two movies. As you might guess, that leads to problems when the supernatural forces of the Further return to create all sorts of spooky scenarios. Directed by Patrick Wilson in his directorial debut, "The Red Door" is surprisingly emotional and features solid scares. It's a nice return to form. 

2. Insidious: Chapter 3

After the misfire that was "Insidious: Chapter 2," the series reloaded successfully with "Insidious: Chapter 3." This sequel moves away from the Lambert family and focuses on new characters plagued by ghosts. This entry is also a prequel, taking place before the events of the first two films. This allowed the series to bring Elise back from the dead, and have her help out someone else: a teenager (Stefanie Scott) stuck in bed after being hit by a car. Writer-director Leigh Whannell is able to conjure up some genuinely scary moments here, and the over-explanation of "Insidious: Chapter 2" is nowhere to be found. That's more like it. 

1. Insidious

The first "Insidious" is still the best. Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell draw on classic haunted house flick "Poltergeist" to tell a scary story about a family under siege. Full of great scary moments, "Insidious" is also smart about how it approaches its story. For instance: when things start to get really scary in their new home, the haunted Lambert family actually does something people in other haunted house movies don't do: they pack up and move. Unfortunately. there's no escape, since it's not the house that's actually haunted, but young Dalton, a boy in a mysterious coma. "Insidious: Chapter 2" would spoil some of the fun of this flick, but if you just watch the first film on its own, it really holds up. Now, what's that behind you?