Insidious Ending, Explained

Insidious‘ is a 2010 horror film by Australian duo James Wan and Leigh Whannell, with the former directing and the latter having written the screenplay. The film follows the Lambert family as they try to escape the malevolent spirits that seem to follow them wherever they go. These entities have an affinity for their young son, Dalton, who is in an inexplicable coma.

As the spirits close in, the family finds an ally who might be able to help them, except the problem, as the film’s title suggests, is insidious and goes a lot deeper. With a finale that keeps us wondering till the end about the fate of the Lamberts, we decided to see if we could figure out what really happens to Josh and his family. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Insidious Plot Synopsis

‘Insidious’ starts with the Lambert family moving into their new house. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) is a teacher and spends most of his days working, whilst his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) stays home with their 2 young sons and a newborn child. As strange things begin to occur in the house, one of the sons, Dalton, has a small fall and mysteriously goes into a coma.

Once Dalton is in a coma, the paranormal occurrences get more aggressive and the family, thinking that their house is haunted, move to another house. When the spirits continue to haunt and attack the family despite them changing houses, Josh’s mother, Lorraine, brings in someone who she says has helped her in the past. She brings in paranormal specialist Elise and her two assistants.

It is revealed that Elise had helped Josh when he was a child and was being similarly stalked by the malevolent spirit of an old woman in a black dress. Elise informs Josh that because of his gift of being a powerful astral traveler, something his son Dalton has inherited, he is the only one who can rescue his son before the spirits take control of Dalton’s body. Josh must then go into the dark spirit realm, which Elise calls “The Further,” where Dalton is supposedly trapped.

Insidious Ending: What Happens to Josh?

Elise hypnotizes Josh till he falls asleep and finds that his astral body is outside his physical body. He walks out of the house in the spirit realm, which appears dark and desolate, and enters another house. After encountering some disturbing spirits, he finally finds Dalton held captive in the “red-faced” demon’s lair. As the two try to escape and find their way back to their physical bodies, they are surrounded by spirits, which follow them to where Elise and Renai are sitting with Josh’s physical body.

As the spirits, now having entered the real world, close in on Renai and Elise, Josh, still in The Further, encounters the old woman who haunted him as a child, staring at him through a mirror. He repeatedly shouts at her to leave him alone as Renai desperately screams for him to return before the spirits overwhelm them. Josh opens his eyes in the physical world, and all the spirits immediately disappear.

They all cheer, and Dalton wakes up, finally out of his coma. As he hungrily wolfs down food, sitting with Lorraine and Renai, in the other room, Josh helps Elise pack her equipment. When he hands her back some photographs, she notices something, and without saying a word, takes out her camera and snaps a picture of Josh. Briefly blinded by the flash, Josh goes into a fit of rage and strangles Elise to death. Hearing the noise, Renai comes to check and is horrified to see Elise dead on the chair and no sign of Josh.

As she picks up the fallen camera and looks at the picture, we see in a flashback that when Josh handed Elise the photographs, she noticed his hands looking very aged. In the picture, we don’t see Josh but the old woman in the black dress who had haunted him as a child and whom he encountered in The Further. In the closing scene, we see Josh’s hand fall on Renai’s shoulder, and all she can do is turn around and gasp. A post-credits scene shows the same old woman in the black dress as she blows out a candle, and all is dark.

All is indeed dark for the Lambert family at the end of ‘Insidious.’ With Josh seemingly possessed and Elise dead, the family is going to have a hard time keeping the spirits at bay. In many ways, they are worse off than they were before because even though Dalton was on the verge of being possessed, it seems like Josh is completely possessed as the old woman seems to be able to control his actions. So does Josh have any hope? Or is the family now doomed?

It seems that the only way Josh might be rescued is if Dalton goes into The Further and helps his father, much like Josh helped Dalton and rescued him earlier. Even once that happens, they will still have to draw the old woman out from Josh’s body, and without Elise there to help them, it isn’t clear whether her assistants will be able to achieve a feat like that. The one ray of hope that could save them is if Dalton finds Elise’s spirit in The Further and she helps the family in the real world from the spirit realm.

However, all this will only be possible if the possessed Josh initially remains calm and does not immediately attack the family. As we only see Renai gasp at the end, we don’t know what Josh does next. In case he decides to just kill everyone in the family, he seems to have the strength to do so. However, from what we’ve seen of the spirits, this does not seem likely. It seems a lot more likely that the old woman possessing Josh will torment the family and try to possess them all, especially Dalton, who seems to be the most susceptible to it.

Is Dalton Safe From the Spirits Now?

Dalton’s astral body finds its way back into his physical body at the end of the movie, and it seems like he might be safe from the spirits at first. But this is unlikely, not in the least because his father Josh is now possessed by the old woman who haunted him ever since he was a child. After seeing Josh fall prey years later to a spirit that haunted him as a child, we know that Dalton will never truly be safe and that as long as he is a gifted astral projection traveler, he will be a target for insidious spirits.

It is hinted in the movie that humans in The Further might be stronger than the spirits since they are actual living beings. If this is the case, it opens up a whole range of possibilities for Dalton’s character. He might be able to become so well versed with the paranormal world that he is able to keep spirits at bay and also fight them, somewhat like a more powerful version of Elise. This might help tip the balance in favor of the Lambert family, who seems to be outgunned by the spirits at the end of the movie.

Will Elise Come Back?

Elise plays an integral part in explaining to Josh and his family why the spirits are tormenting them and how to deal with it. She is also shown to have some minor level of power over spirits and can confront them. However, at the end of the movie, she is killed by the old woman possessing Josh, who seems to have a longtime rivalry with Elise.

While Elise’s assistants, Tucker and Specs, are adept at locating spirits, it was Elise that knew what to do when a spirit was encountered, and with her dead, it is difficult to imagine who will lead the charge against the spirits. One possibility is that Elise returns in spirit form and attempts to help the Lamberts by leaving them clues and information from the spirit realm.

The other, more likely situation is where Dalton can find Elise in The Further, and she helps him in the spirit realm and possibly takes on the old woman possessing Josh as well. It is also interesting to think of what would happen if Elise herself comes back as an “insidious” spirit. Though it seems unlikely, it would make for an interesting plot as Elise, with her knowledge of the paranormal, would prove to be a most formidable enemy in spirit form.

Read More: Is Insidious Based on a True Story?