“Insidious: The Last Key” is the fourth installment in the Insidious film series which started back in 2011 and this entry puts its focus on series regular Lin Shaye in her role as paranormal investigator, Elise Rainier. This time, Elise is tasked in investigating the hauntings in a house, except the twist is that it’s her own home that she grew up in as a child and now she has to confront mysterious entities from her past.
With the Insidious movies before, I’ve enjoyed all of them. The first movie is still legitimately creepy and interesting as a horror movie that explores other ideas such as astral projection and for the most part, the two sequels did a good job in carrying over the scares as well as telling a story that spans itself over three films. In my opinion, there was no need for a fourth movie, but one of the more basic rules of Hollywood is that the movies that don’t need sequels are generally the ones that get them, and what’s even better is that it gets its release in January…yay.
To start on a positive note, Lin Shaye does a good job in this role, as she did in the previous movies. In all honesty, some of her line delivery comes off as a bit awkward, but I blame that more on the writing than I do her. While in the previous movies she was just a cog that played its part in a well oiled machine, she’s now the one saving grace in a movie that otherwise fits the role of a January horror movie to start off the new year.
As far as being a horror movie goes, this movie doesn’t have any legitimate scares. There are moments when you will jump in your seat as I did, but jumping out of reflex like that is a poor way to get scares from your audience. Admittedly, the jump scares in this movie aren’t always something cheap like a cat jumping out of a closet and I give the faintest amount of credit for the movie at least trying to create some scary imagery, but it can only get so far on predictable scares. When it comes to horror movies, a jump scare can be seen coming when the scene is completely silent and the camera focuses on one shot for an extended period of time and BOOM! Loud rise in music accompanied by something jumping out at the screen. That happens more than a few times in this movie and it gets old very quickly.
When this movie isn’t throwing jump scares at you, it’s being a tonally inconsistent mess. One minutes it’s trying to be a creepy horror movie, but then it’s trying to be some family drama involving Elise and her estranged brother. But not only that, it also tries its hand at comedy with the two returning sidekicks from the previous films. I didn’t mind them in the first three movies, but in this one they’re just plain insufferable. The comedy is forced, awkward, and just all around unnecessary. What makes it worse is that it’s conflicting with two other genres (horror and drama) as they all try to take center stage in this movie.
By the end of the movie, there’s a completely half-assed attempt to connect everything all the way back to the first film. I could see what this movie was trying to accomplish with how it bridges the narrative to try and get this series to come full circle, but it feels forced and nothing is done with the concept. If anything, it feels like the writers didn’t even know how to end this movie and they decided to just start referencing the first movie in the hopes that audiences will find it clever in some way. Could it have been a smart way to connect all of the “Insidious” films? Yes. Is the execution sloppy and unfocused? You’re damn right.
In the end, “Insidious: The Last Key” is a January horror movie and that should just about tell you everything you need to know. Director Adam Robitel simply doesn’t have the clever techniques and ideas that James Wan had to offer in the previous movies and what we get is a fourth entry that’s tonally unbalanced, lacking in any genuine scares and displaying that this movie series has officially run out of ideas and should just stop right now. We can all enjoy the first three movies for what they are, a solid horror trilogy that can survive without this unneeded fourth entry.
Rating: Some Ol’ Bullshit