Director: Adam Robitel
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Josh Stewart, Caitlinn Gerard, Spencer Locke and Bruce Davison
Running Time: 1 Hr, 43 Mins
I mentioned in my Top 10 Winter and Spring movies of 2018 that I had a complicated relationship with the Insidious franchise. While I loved the first film (appreciating not only the craft that wet into it but also the fact that it breathed desperately new life into a genre that had become addicted to CGI and torture porn) the sequels were left desperately wanting. In fact almost all the primary players from the first film-on both sides of the camera-are nowhere to be found in The Last Key, the fourth (and hopefully final) Insidious instalment.
The characters carrying the story were strictly support staff in the first (and only good) film and its become obvious that the writers, producers and directors have either lost interest or no longer know what to do with this particular supernatural property. And does it ever show.
Psychic and Paranormal investigator Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) and her sidekicks (Leigh Channel and Angus Sampson) respond to a call for help from the new owner of Elise’s childhood home. It was in this house, only yards away from a prison complete with an electric chair (the lights flickered every time a convicted criminal rode the lightning) that Elise discovered her gift to sense and communicate with the dead. While her mother was tolerant of her daughter’s gifts, her father (a guard at the prison) feared and hated them and used physical punishment to suppress them.
When Elise returns to the house (where her mother was also murdered by a demonic presence), she discovers that there was far more going on then she knew or suspected. As she prepares face the demons from her past and make a stand against an evil she fears she unleashed, the true scope what she shared her childhood home with comes into frightening focus.
Insidious The Last Key had a plot. I think. It involved children who could talk to dead people . . . and there were lots of ghosts . . . some living sex slaves . . . a couple of bibles . . . the truth is I could barely make heads or tales of it even when I was paying attention. And I wasn’t always because this was a movie that had no genuine suspense, chills or even storytelling behind it and it made the mistake of taking itself seriously.
It’s impossible to invest any emotion into the characters. Elise, once confident and willful, is flighty and reckless and makes all kinds of dumb mistakes. Her sidekicks remain bumbling, socially backwards idiots and it was easier to like them in the first movie when they had less screen time and were far less important. And the victims are either genuinely loathsome human beings (making you root for the monsters hunting them) or are generic victims at best.
It honestly feels like the writers were just throwing a bunch of mediocre ideas against the wall in hopes that something would stick. None of them did. The story is a jumbled mess that staggers from one nonsensical scene to the next and even the attempts at humour feel like they were written by toddlers with crayon. The film tries to follow in the footsteps of previous instalments by inserting itself in the larger timeline but instead of being seamless and neat, it’s attempts to find a home in the narrative are clumsy at best.
The truth is the trailers for upcoming horror movies were more entertaining (and better written) than The Last Key.
This franchise has exhausted any creativity and good will it had. At this point it’s hobbling along on lacklustre ideas and predictable jump scares (that aren’t scary). There is a small chance that this could be passing the torch to a new psychic protagonist (Elise met her final end years ago), which would be dumb. It’s definitely time for these movies to take their place in the Great Beyond along with the demons it features. Otherwise it’s just insulting to the original film and everyone involved with it.