James Wan’s 2010 horror movie Insidious, starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, was a surprise hit with critics and viewers alike. But the four-chapter series has a rather complicated chronology. It doesn’t help that some of the same characters appear in all four films, even though the storyline of the third and fourth chapters starts before the first and second. So in many ways, to explain the movie Insidious in order means to explain its timeline so that one can understand how all the pieces fit together over the span of the franchise.

Here is a detailed synopsis as we start with the timelines of the Insidious movies in order, along with a description of how everything works into the overall plot.

Insidious: Chapter 4: The Last Key

insidious chapter 4 explained in order

Director Adam Robitel begins the most recent chapter of the series with a trip back in time to Elise’s tragic early years. A man (Kirk Acevedo) calls Elise, Tucker, and Specs from his demon-haunted cell phone. The man resides in Elise’s former childhood home, and is terrorized by the “KeyFace” monster.

As a young girl, Elise discovers a strange red doorway and experiences a short demonic possession. KeyFace is the creature Elise unintentionally releases. Thus, her mother gets murdered, and Keyface turns her father into a serial killer while possessing him.

When KeyFace begins terrorizing her estranged brother and his two daughters, Imogen and Melissa, Elise has to return to the house where she grew up. This time, Melissa gets spectrally abducted into the Further by KeyFace. As Elise searches for Melissa in The Further, she accidentally opens the entrance to the Lambert residence and glimpses Dalton. Elise manages to save Melissa. But the door between The Further and the physical world remains open.


Then that night, she dreams of Dalton and the Lipstick-Face Demon. When Josh’s grandmother Lorraine calls Elise to discuss her grandson’s life threat, Elise promises to assist. Of course, we know that didnt end well for her.

Insidious: Chapter 3

insidious chapter 3 explained in order

Insidious: Chapter 3 centers on Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and the mystery of a teen haunted by the man who can’t breathe. It takes place a few years before the first film of the Lambert family.

Quinn Brenner attempts to communicate with her deceased mother. She fails but attracts a diabolical entity determined to drag her down into ” The Further.” When there is no other choice, Quinn’s father (Dermot Mulroney) visits the psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye again) and requests help.


At first, Elise declines because she doesn’t want to return to The Further, where she believes The Bride in Black is pursuing her. However, she later agrees and forms a team with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). After doing so, Elise chooses to continue working with her new team.

Elise encounters The Lipstick-Face Demon in the final scene, hinting at their upcoming conflict in the first Insidious film. This creates a meaningful connection to the first film, so that explaining the Insidious movies in order begins to make that much more sense.


insidious explained in order

To further understand the Insidious movies in order, of course it’s important to look at the original film. The franchise’s first film storyline takes place after the events in The Last Key. It revolves around The family of Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), a couple with three kids named Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor) and infant daughter Cali (twin actors Brynn and Madison Bowie). Dalton trips down a staircase when he runs into a shadowy figure in the attic one night. The child strangely slips into a coma the following day.

It seems Dalton has been traveling in his dreams to The Further unaware of his abilities. The Lipstick-Face Demon has managed to capture his spirit and trap it there. Luckily, Josh appears to have the same talent as his son.

Elise tells Josh to retrieve Dalton, he must travel to The Further. Josh successfully saves Dalton, but as they leave the Further, he runs into the Bride in Black. Although the father-and-son team effectively escape, something is amiss.

Elise has a strange feeling about Josh. When she clicks a picture of him, Josh grows enraged and kills her. Renai sees Elise’s body and also finds the photograph she took.

Insidious: Chapter 2

chapter 2 explained

Insidious: Chapter 2 continues this story where the first film stopped. Josh is person of interest in Elise’s murder. The Lambert family moves into Josh’s mother’s home, but he doesn’t remember being possessed by The Bride in Black. The family keeps having demonic experiences.

Elise helped the Lambert family in 1986 by defending Josh from The Further and blocking his abilities. When Specs and Tucker investigate this case, they find a video of Josh as an adult standing behind the young Josh.


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Specs and Tucker enlist the help from a former colleague Carl (Steve Coulter) and contact Elise’s spirit. Elise directs them to the serial killer Parker Crane, who murdered young women while disguising himself as a woman.

Josh’s spirit can speak with his younger self in The Further, and the latter reveals the location of Parker’s spirit for the group. But the Woman stalking Elise for a long time is the ghost of Parker’s abusive mother. Parker vanishes as Elise comes in time to stop The Woman in White.

Josh and Dalton consent to having their memories erased once more as the Lambert family is united again.

Understanding the Insidious Movies In Order

There now, you have all the scoop on the entire Insidious series!

When Insidious: The Red Door gets released in July 2023, fans will be fascinated to see how the Lamberts have fared in life, after their previous otherworldly experiences and whether the horrors of The Further will terrify them again.

So why not bing-watch with an Insidious marathon in preparation for the franchise’s return? Happy viewing!

Last Updated on April 13, 2023.

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