Insidious: The Last Key review – Lock the door and throw away the key, please
Arguably the only successful horror movie franchise of the modern era apart from The Conjuring, the Insidious saga returns with its fourth installment, Insidious: The Last Key. Technically the second film in the series' chronology, the film sees Elize Rainier (Lin Shaye) return to fight both paranormal and personal demons.
An obvious attempt to keep the franchise from fading into obscurity, The Last Key is a desperate throw of the dice from an increasingly tired stable. Predictably though, this gamble doesn't pay off. Far less frightening than the original, The Last Key's strange detour into the Rainier family's issues leaves the movie largely scare-free, saving any semblance of action for a slap-dash final sprint which is ultimately both unsatisfying as well as senseless.
The movie centres largely on Elize Rainier and her troubled childhood. Growing up in New Mexico, not only was she able to see ghosts, but her house was extremely haunted. Resented by her father (Josh Stewart) for her ghostly visions, Elize is sent to the basement of the house as punishment. Here, she unwittingly frees a trapped demon, a move that ultimately results in the death of her mother (Tessa Ferrer).
In 2010, now a famous psychic, Rainier gets a call for help from a man currently living in the house she grew up in. Realising that it was her who freed the demon haunting his house, she agrees to return to New Mexico to try and help him. However, things do not go as planned, sparking off a series of events that will put Elize's childhood memories into fresh perspective, and force her to confront her inner demons.
When writer-actor Leigh Whannel took over the directorial reigns for Insidious Chapter 3, the writing was already on the wall. This was a franchise with increasingly few takers. With the entry of director Adam Robitel for The Last Key, a man best known for co-writing the worst-performing iteration of the Paranormal Activity franchise, this was always going to be a depressing trudge of a movie.
There is only one positive to this movie – its 1 hour 40 minute runtime. With nothing of value to add to the franchise, anything longer than this would have had movie goers feeling rage instead of just boredom. The movie is just that insipid.
The movies scares are few and far apart, often ending before they really begin, with Rainier's messed up family dynamic getting more play instead. This is a gross misjudgment on the studio's part, as no audience is going to see Insidious for anything other than the horror aspect. Yes, there are franchise characters. No, we simply don't care about them enough to want to see a family reunion. Especially one as poorly written as the one in The Last Key.
Any building tension in the movie is also wrecked by piss-poor comedic timing, and even worse delivery. Specs (Whannel) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), Rainier's sidekicks, deliver the cringiest and corniest lines you will ever hear on screen, with performances to match. In fact, while Sampson has at least proven his acting chops in season 2 of Fargo, one imagines that Whannel only got the job because he wrote the series.
Contrasted with her sidekicks, Shaye does her job admirably. However, with such dull scripting, there is little she can do to salvage the film. There isn't a soundtrack to speak of either, something that could have really helped to build up an atmosphere of horror in this cinematic dud.
Should you see it?
Nope. Not even if you feel starved for horror movies, because there is simply no horror to be had here. Guess we'll wait to see if The Nun can do better.