Insidious: The Last Key
Insidious: The Last Key offers up familiar franchise scares, reminding audiences that star Lin Shaye's performance is the highlight of this often repetitive series. Director Adam Robitel does give The Last Key a few unexpected twists and turns, but the film is mostly more of the same.
Adam Robitel‘s Insidious: The Last Key is a familiar jaunt into The Further as series staple Lin Shaye gives this spooky franchise its best performance, despite each installment growing weaker and weaker as an exploration into the paranormal and an opportunity to scare audiences with fresh new horror. The Last Key may present franchise fatigue, much like the previous installment, but it does offer up a few new twists and turns as it shifts its focus away from others and onto Shaye as we dig deeper into her past.
Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her team of paranormal investigators have helped many people rid themselves of demons and the paranormal. They do this by entering the homes and personal lives of those directly effected by whatever is haunting them. They haven’t however, returned to Elise’s past as she is now confronted with the haunting of her former home, where she grew up as a child.
Insidious: The Last Key does become an exercise of familiar spooks and scares as it yet again revisits the darkly lit and foggy setting of The Further. It doesn’t venture into new territories in that regard, again throwing out plot and logic to reach its mostly predictable conclusion.
But something it does get right is the exploration of Elise’s past, through flashbacks. It does this by showing us her relationship with her father (played with cold and confused restraint by Josh Stewart). This is the part of the film that almost forgets about the hauntings and paranormal and instead focuses on her struggle with acknowledging her special gift growing up.
It creates a distance between herself and her family and her past altogether. Director Adam Robitel and writer Leigh Whannell flesh out the script with enough backstory and interest to keep The Last Key from immediately tripping on its own feet.
This keeps the film going for a lot longer than it rightfully should, but eventually The Last Key becomes a stale and soggy piece of modern day horror filmmaking. The ending is remarkably stupid, ridding the film’s credibility with its giant swoops of nonsensical franchise logic that magically gets rid of the bad guys.
The Insidious franchise is one that relies on heavy atmosphere and consistent scares, yet they almost always throw all of that away on a “big” ending. Director James Wan had the craft to close 1 and 2 on a high note, while the third one suffered and now the fourth installment almost stalls completely.
There’s still enough gas in the tank to keep this franchise going, if it continues to adapt and change for its audiences and for the greater good of storytelling. The Last Key teases at the fact that we might be done with prequels for a while, which opens up the possibility to explore the first two films without simply grabbing as much cash as possible.
I was totally invested with about 3/4ths of The Last Key, until it started venturing into The Further and until it reached its pathetic book-end finish. That is when the scares started to fall and the mystery stopped contributing to the plot in a meaningful way.
The creature design is still scary and the occasional jumps register, but most of the horror elements of Insidious: The Last Key are ones that fans are going to spot a mile away.
I truly hope the successful box office means going back to the drawing board and coming up with something that can keep this franchise going to better tell a larger story or to consistently deliver new, genuine scares.
I don’t want to keep seeing the same old tricks falling out of the bag, only covered in more cobwebs and prequel backstory.