Insidious: The Last Key (hereafter simply referred to as “The Last Key”) is directed by Adam Robitel, and stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, and Bruce Davison. This is the fourth released film in the Insidious series, and second to take place (the latter two films are prequels rather than sequels).
In 1953, in New Mexico, young Elise Rainier is haunted by what she believes to be visions of spirits in her home, much to the ire of her scaredy-cat younger brother and an abusive father. Many years later, an elderly Elise, who now runs a paranormal investigations company, receives a call to investigate goings on in her former childhood home in New Mexico. She sets out with her investigation assistants Tucker and Specs, but when their investigations begin, it becomes clear that there may be more to these so-called hauntings than meets the eye.
The Last Key is the fourth film in an ongoing series, and while the latest installment does feature a few intriguing elements and a solid cast, it ultimately settles for startling the audience with cheap jump scares, and doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table.
As far as positives go, the cast is superb, though I was admittedly not familiar with the majority of the actors and actresses here. Lin Shaye reprises her role from prior Insidious films, and definitely stands as the strongest point in the film; it is excellent to see a horror film series that actually uses an aging woman as its lead rather than a young, sexy starlet, but Shaye brings her best to this part, and remains the highlight of the movie. The flashbacks to a younger version of the character do a good job establishing her backstory. Other members of the cast fare just as well, with definite highlights coming from Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell as Elise’s paranormal investigator employees, who provide much of the comic relief in an otherwise bleak film. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off film starring these two.
But a solid cast can’t save this from being an unnecessary fourth film in a franchise that has long since run its course. The biggest offender here is the movie’s reliance on jump scares; this has long been a cheap horror film trick that gets done to death, and it is disappointing to see filmmakers continuing to overdo it even after so many years. Many of the attempts at story building end up feeling lackluster and undeveloped, and much of the comic relief, which stems at Elise’s fellow investigators developing crushes on her beautiful young nieces, comes off as more creepy than funny, since they look about 15 years older than them. For what is supposed to be a fairly intimate story with limited locations and a plot that ties into the past, the movie ends up bogged down in too many characters.
The Last Key is not a great film by any means, but certainly has its redeeming qualities. That said, it is safe to say this franchise, now four films in, has run its course. We get a solid performance from Lin Shaye and the actors playing her investigators, but there are too many characters, and attempts at comic relief and plot development end up overshadowed by the overuse of jump scares. If you’re curious, wait for the home release, and rent it.
Rating: Two out of four stars.
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