6 Creepiest Moments in the ‘Insidious’ Franchise

For sheer supernatural spookiness, few horror franchises do it better than Insidious. This list contains the top six most insidious scares from the series that continue to give us chills.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) picks up where the first movie left off, which allows it to get to the spooky stuff right away.

Table of Contents

The Insidious movies provide some of the best scares in modern horror. The best part is, each movie in the Insidious franchise has a wide variety of frights. There are jump scares meant to surprise you. There are elaborate supernatural set pieces designed to build fear through fantastical imagery. And there are scares that are relatable and feel like they could happen in our everyday lives. This list focuses on those scary moments that feel the most relatable.

For most people, it’s a rare occasion to participate in a seance with a woman wearing a gas mask. Not everyone can relate to astral projecting themselves into a different dimension like The Further. Scenes like that are absolutely terrifying, but it’s difficult for us to see ourselves in those situations. However, lots of people regularly take out the trash or sit across from someone at a dinner table. When we see these mundane, everyday moments paired with an effectively frightening experience, they are more likely to stick with us long after the movie ends. Collected here are the most insidious moments in the Insidious film series that continue to haunt us as we live our daily lives.

The Creepiest Scenes in the Insidious Movies

Police Station Spirit

Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
Marcus Henderson and Spencer Locke in Insidious: The Last Key (2018).
This is the creepiest moment of Insidious: The Last Key, and it’s the best jump scare in the movie.

By the time the Insidious series made it to its fourth movie, fans of the franchise were wise about how the movies build up to scares. There’s nothing wrong with that, and building tension for an audience who knows a fright is coming is an art unto itself. But the creepiest moment in Insidious: The Last Key comes out of nowhere in a scene that otherwise feels entirely safe. When Elise (Lin Shaye) is speaking to Detective Whitfield (Marcus Henderson) in an interrogation room, we don’t expect to see anything scary, especially since that scene is intercut with a scene of Melissa (Spencer Locke) searching a creepy basement. The basement is where we expect to be scared (and sure, it is spooky), but when Elise suddenly sees Melissa’s tortured spirit behind Det. Whitfield, that is the most frightening moment.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Insidious (2010)
Rose Byrne in Insidious (2010).
The song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was originally written in 1929. The version used in Insidious was recorded in 1968 by musician Tiny Tim.

As one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise, this sequence begins with Renai (Rose Byrne) cleaning up around the house and taking out the trash. As she passes by the laundry room, she fails to see the ghost of a young boy standing against the wall right next to her. Then, when she goes outside, the music she has playing changes to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” It takes a few seconds for Renai to realize that anything is amiss, and when she does, she’s not entirely sure what is happening. The scene builds to a jump scare as the ghostly boy hops out of a cabinet, but the most chilling part of this whole sequence is the slow realization Renai has, that moving houses didn’t get rid of her family’s haunting. Adding to the creepiness is the idea that ghosts may be around even in broad daylight.

Tin Can Phone

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Ty Simpkins in Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
The idea of interacting with a spirit without realizing it was also done extremely well in The Haunting (1963) in the scene where Eleanor thinks she’s holding hands with Theo.

Dark closets are a staple of horror stories, and Insidious: Chapter 2 reiterates the fact that, yes, you should be scared of what’s hidden in the dark. Young Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and his brother Foster (Andrew Astor) have a phone made out of tin cans and string. Dalton thinks the phone is dumb, so when he is woken at night by a voice coming from the can, he tells Foster to stop. The problem is, it’s not Foster’s voice. The other end of the phone is hidden away in the back of Dalton’s closet. Dalton learns who he is talking to when the spirit of a woman in pain exits the closet and reaches out to him. The layers of realization as Dalton becomes more aware of what’s happening add to the fear, but it still comes down to one thing: closets are scary.

Curtain Demon

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
The curtain demon in Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015).
The demon behind the curtain is known as the Wheezing Demon or The Man Who Can’t Breathe.

After her mobility is severely reduced when she breaks both legs in a car accident, Quinn (Stefanie Scott) spends a lot of time in bed. While talking with a friend online, Quinn is spooked when her friend notices someone else in the room. The video feed freezes, and Quinn sees that her wheelchair has mysteriously moved across the room, well out of reach. Essentially trapped in bed, Quinn looks towards the window to see a demon silhouetted in the sunlight. It’s a terrifying sight that gets worse when the demon drops to the floor and out of sight. Now it could be anywhere. The scene continues with the demon moving around the room at will while Quinn can barely move. And it all started with a window and a curtain.

Don’t You Dare

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Danielle Bisutti in Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013).
The entity known as The Woman in White (Danielle Bisutti) is the main antagonist of Insidious: Chapter 2.

The scene where Renai comes face to face with The Woman in White feels a lot like an updated and enhanced version of the “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” scene from the first Insidious movie. It begins with Renai doing another household chore, laundry, before being led by supernatural forces on a walk through her home. Like in the first movie, the scene contains sweeping camera movements that tease viewers with thoughts of what might be around the next corner. But when compared to the original Insidious, the fear-factor in this particular scene is significantly greater. It contains intense audio, flying objects, and an impactful ending that has The Woman in White screaming in Renai’s (and the audience’s) face. The lesson learned? Don’t do laundry. Ever.

He’s Right Behind Me, Isn’t He?

Insidious (2010)
Joseph Bishara and Patrick Wilson in Insidious (2010).
The demon behind Josh is sometimes called The Red Face Demon, The Man with the Fire on His Face, or The Lipstick Face Demon.

It’s fitting that the most indelible image of the entire Insidious franchise is one of its most simple and straightforward scares. It is the scene in the first Insidious in which Renai (Rose Byrne), Josh (Patrick Wilson), and Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) are having a discussion at the dinner table. While telling Josh and Renai about a dream she had about their house and a red-faced demon, Lorraine looks at her son and briefly sees the demon standing agonizingly close behind Josh. It’s only on screen for a second, but the sudden appearance of the demon combined with Barbara Hershey’s intense reaction makes it utterly horrifying. So, if you’re ever having a discussion at a table, it’s best to just keep your eyes down.

Further Reading

A drawing of the Red Face Demon in Insidious (2010).
An honorable mention for creepiest moments includes the scene in Insidious (2010) when Elise describes seeing the Red Face Demon in the ceiling, and Specs draws it. The audience sees nothing supernatural in this scene, but it makes us look at ceilings very differently.

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.