The last time we spoke to actor, horror legend and star of films such as Critters and Dead End, Lin Shaye, was in 2018 for the release of Insidious: The Last Key which brought her character Elise Rainier back from the dead to shade in the backstory of the beloved parapsychologist.
At that time on speaking about working with Leigh Whannell, James Wan and the cast of the Insidious films she stated: “I hope to keep these people close to my heart and a creative force for a long time.” True to her word and five years on, she returns once again for the fifth entry in the franchise, Insidious: The Red Door which is directed by and stars Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert. The film sees Josh’s son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) head off to art college to battle literal and metaphorical demons.
We spoke to Shaye about returning to the franchise, reuniting with Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, the importance of family in horror movies and her interest in art…
Was there anything in particular that persuaded you to return to the franchise, or was it an easy decision?
It was a very easy decision! I love Elise. I love the people involved. Knowing Patrick and Rose [Byrne] and Ty were there. I’m in! I would go anywhere with those people, even on a Ferris Wheel! There are so many elements that make you want to do a film or a play or whatever and it usually has to do with story or your character but it also has to do with the people.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do with those guys. Patrick is really a force of nature. He is just really incredible. Watching him, even just in this last film, being the director and giving me some notes about something we were doing… we were doing that very last scene which is an important scene in the film, and just like that he turned on Josh! I got chills watching him. That’s how he is in terms of transformation. He goes from one thing to another with such ease and such commitment. And Rose is like that too. She is just the sweetest human being you would ever meet. Those are prizes to work with.
The Insidious franchise really digs into family dynamics. I think the reason the franchise is so popular is because the films do something similar to Poltergeist by making you care so much about the family aspect that you’re terrified for them – why do you think they are so loved in horror circles?
I think you just said it. It’s because it’s relatable. Everyone has a family, even if it’s a fractured family. Even if it’s a family of friends or family of blood relatives. That community or that pod of security that we all try to gather around ourselves.
We somehow need the pressure of that community to keep us feeling well and I think you seek that. When that’s part of a film or part of a storyline you’re attracted to that in a way, too, because you identify with the needs that they have and to what happens to them.
It was very smart of James [Wan] when he…I don’t even think he thought about it like that because James is a very warm, family person and really a brilliant guy. When he developed that first family, the whole beginning of the film is that the family is in jeopardy. They’ve got a baby and there’s a baby crying… those are all cosmic sounds that penetrate us in a very certain way. I think that’s part of the attraction.
The atmosphere and look of the film is very inspired by classic art, including Saturn Devouring His Son, by Francisco Goya. Are there any pieces of art that strongly speak to you or inspire you in some way?
Yes! I was actually an art history major in college. When you mention Goya and you mention Francis Bacon… there are scenes of horror in particular that are interpreted by great artists that are very powerful. The Scream is a classic. I mean everybody’s afraid of that painting! It evokes things in people that nothing else quite does. I guess that’s great art.
My dad actually started painting when he was in his 50s. I have pieces of his that inspire me so that has a personal connection which is great art also. There’s something that penetrates you visually. I remember going to the Rembrandt museum in Amsterdam and you just can’t walk away. It’s almost unnerving. I’d find myself walking away and then I’d be back. And the same thing with Van Gogh.
That to me is great art – to be able to penetrate anyone and everyone who takes the time to look. And I think that’s the big clue about life; you have to take the time to look and let it enter you.
Insidious: The Red Door will be in cinemas on 7 July.