Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth instalment in the Insidious horror movie franchise. I’m a huge fan of the first two films, the third not so much. It isn’t terrible, not by any means. Still, I felt it was quite the departure from what had made the first two such effective horror movies. This shouldn’t have been a surprise as James Wan (1 & 2) was not in the director’s seat. Unfortunately, that is the case for the fourth as well. The film follows parapsychologist Elise Rainier as she investigates a haunting in her childhood home.
In 1953, a young Elise Rainier lives with her mother Audrey, Brother Christian, and father Gerald in New Mexico. Gerald works as an executioner in a nearby prison. Elise claims to see the ghosts of the prisoners that have been killed in the electric chair. Naturally, this concerns Audrey and angers Gerald. One night when Christian and Elise were about to sleep, Elise encounters a ghost in their room which frightens Christian. This prompts him to use a whistle given by their mother to call for help. However, the whistle was misplaced before Christian could blow it.
The commotion causes their parents to enter the bedroom, and a furious Gerald beats Elise before locking her in the basement. In the basement, a voice lures Elise to a door which she unlocks. A demon called Key Face emerges from the door and possesses Elise. Audrey investigates and finds the possessed Elise before being hung by a wire controlled by the entity, killing her. Elise is broken out of the possession as Gerald arrives and finds Elise and Audrey’s body.
Decades later, an older Elise works as a paranormal investigator with her two colleagues, Specs and Tucker, taking clients via phone calls. One day, Elise receives a phone call seeking for help. The client, Ted Garza, claims that he has been experiencing paranormal activity since moving into his house. While on the phone, he reveals that he is living in Elise’s childhood home. Hesitant at first, she explains to her colleagues what happened to her during her childhood, then deciding to accept the job in order to make things right.
Insidious: The Last Key is an improvement over Insidious: Chapter 3 that is for certain. In my review, I stated that I thought it had mistakenly focused too much of its attention on the backstory of Elise. This led to less time being devoted to the main plot which was damaging as it was much less interesting anyway. I mentioned that I would have preferred it had looked into her background entirely as she is by far the most interesting character of the entire franchise. Well, that is exactly what The Last Key does.
Lin Shayne delivers her best performance yet. She proves that once again she’s worthy of having 4 movies revolve around her. The film fills in a lot of the blanks about her youth and everything that shaped her into the person she becomes. I really enjoyed just about everything about her backstory. It is really interesting and helped me feel invested when certain emotionally filled scenes were delivered later on.
However, first and foremost this is a horror movie and it’s meant to be more about the scares rather than emotional scenes. The Last Key fails to generate fear in the ways that the first two managed so well. On the whole, it is much quieter and more subtle with its approach. It does deliver a creepy atmosphere at times though. When the scares do come, they are mostly in the form of the dreaded jump-scare. I will say that I thought they did a decent job in masking some of the jump-scares with clever fake outs. One in particular involving a stack of suitcases is fantastic. Still, sadly I don’t see this as a film that will keep you up at night with the lights on.
Specs & Tucker are back again as the comic relief, how glad are you? Honestly, they feel rather pointless and while they do get a few laughs it truly ran its course two movies ago. I know, they are nerds! Get the joke yet!?
Another thing, I would have appreciated a better reminder on the history of the franchise at the start. Insidious is set in 2010, Insidious 2 is set in 1986 and 2010-11, Insidious 3 is set some time in the 2000s and now the fourth is also set in 2010. It can be rather confusing, especially when we already know that Elise dies in the first movie. This alone is fairly damaging to the suspense generated in The Last Key as we know she isn’t dying or even getting seriously injured.
Overall, Insidious: The Last Key ties up the franchise & the story of Elise in a nice, fairly neat bow. Also, it leads well into the first film. Still, it lacks the intensity of the first & second movie. Key Face is very intimidating and it looks great but something was missing. I know the soundtrack used in the original was associated with the Bride in Black but it really would have helped here. I had low expectations but ended up pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
Insidious: The Last Key