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Insidious: The Last Key Review

January 5, 2018 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Insidious: The Last Key
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Insidious: The Last Key Review  

Directed By: Adam Robitel
Written By: Leigh Whannell
Runtime: 103 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language

Lin Shaye – Elise Rainier
Leigh Whannell – Specs
Angus Sampson – Tucker
Kirk Acevedo – Ted Garza
Caitlin Gerard – Imogen Rainier
Spencer Locke – Melissa Rainier
Tessa Ferrer – Audrey Rainier
Bruce Davison – Christian Rainier
Javier Botet – Keyface

The Insidious franchise marches on with a new prequel, Insidious: The Last Key, that while possibly not the last movie in the franchise, does serve to have a sense of finality with how it bridges over events from the last prequel, Insidious: Chapter 3, which was set before the events of the first two films.

The Last Key continues off sometimes after the events of the third film. It’s back in 2010, and Elise is having nightmares of her childhood home. She and her family lived in a house next to a prison facility in Five Keys, New Mexico in the 1950s. As a little girl, Elise already had the ability to see and talk to ghosts, something which angered her abusive father. Unfortunately for Elise, the fallout shelter underground was seemingly home to a malevolent demon, Keyface (Botet), who feeds on fear, anger and hatred, causing great tragedy in Elise’s past.

Elise, now working with ghost chasers Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson), is soon contacted by a man named Ted Garza (Acevedo), who recently moved into her childhood home and requests her help in exorcising the ghost from the structure. Despite initial reluctance, Elise decides to answer the call to action to help Garza and confront her past.

The direction for the film is weak. The earlier Insidious films directed by James Wan were remarkably solid after he had shaken off his bad habits and tendencies from earlier his career. Robitel comes off more like a discount Blumhouse Productions director. His direction is clunky, and his actors’ interactions are excessively clunky and awkward. This has a lot more in common with Sinister 2 or the awful Ouija films than the first two Insidious pictures.

Can Robitel put together some decent jump scares and some halfway decent atmosphere. Yes, and the film has some of that, but there’s not much else. The refreshing tone and style of the earlier Insidious films is long gone. The series has lots its great sense of suspense and atmosphere.

Leigh Whannell struggles to put together a meaningful script to keep the franchise going. The story is constantly switching gears to force Elise to stay involved with her childhood home. This includes a rather convoluted return to the home by Elise’s estranged brother, Christian, along with his two daughters, Imogen (Gerard) and Melissa (Locke). Basically, it’s like Whannell had two separate sequel ideas, and neither of them were strong or well developed enough on their own. So essentially, he stuck two Insidious movie ideas together to come up with the film’s existing quasi-plot. Those ideas culminate to bridge events of the franchise, which does create a feeling of nostalgia. However, it’s only a yearning for the quality of the first two films that the recent entries decidedly lack.

What hurts the film is that Imogen is introduced very late into the story in a very ham-handed and awkward way. However, she soon becomes very important and integral to the rest of the narrative. But there’s been almost no time to develop or get to know Imogen at all. All that’s really said about Imogen is that she’s the niece of Elise, and she has psychic spiritual medium abilities like her as well. It’s hard to really care about Imogen or her sister Melissa when they are unceremoniously thrust into the plot without any warning and are suddenly made into the next hapless victims.

The Insidious franchise already started showing wear and tear with the last movie, Insidious: Chapter 3. At least that film managed to feature a few strong moments with Lin Shaye’s character, but the story was already showing signs of getting spread thin after its natural conclusion. There’s probably ways Blumhouse Productions could probably continue this film series if they wish, but if that’s any indication, they are better off stopping here. Otherwise, this is starting to feel like a horror movie series just pumping out new installments just to make them rather than having a good story to tell.

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Insidious: The Last Key is where this horror film franchise is has strayed far from its stronger roots and veers into tired, cheap and uneventful sequels that lack the refreshing qualities of the earlier entries. There's a convoluted plot that's constantly switching gears and introduces new characters without any solid presentation or development. Unless you really love the Insidious films, this is one to avoid in the theaters.