Insidious: The Last Key

insidious4-rev Insidious: The Last Key  (2018)    Universal/Horror    RT: 103 minutes    Rated PG-13 (disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, brief strong language)    Director: Adam Robitel    Screenplay: Leigh Whannell    Music: Joseph Bishara    Cinematography: Toby Oliver    Release date: January 5, 2018 (US)    Cast: Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, Aleque Reid, Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Bruce Davison, Javier Botet, Marcus Henderson, Amanda Jaros.

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 Happy New Year, my friends! In what has become a rite of January, the first new release of the year is a horror flick. Now it would be nice to say that 2018 gets off to a frightening start with Insidious: The Last Key but that wouldn’t be entirely true. The truth is that there are only a couple of decent “BOO!” scenes in this fourth entry of the series that takes place after I3 but before the events of I1 and I2. There’s also an interesting twist about midway through that kind of works if you don’t overthink it.

 For me, the more interesting aspect of Insidious: The Last Key is the development of the main character, psychic/ghost hunter Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her background story. In this latest chapter, Elise returns to her childhood home in New Mexico to confront her childhood demons, both literal and figurative. It’s something she has to do. As a child, she let loose the entity that killed her mother (Ferrer) and left her and her younger brother alone with an abusive father (Stewart) who would beat her every time she saw ghosts. The house’s new owner, Ted Garza (Acevedo, TV’s 12 Monkeys), calls on Elise for help and after a moment’s pause, she decides to deal with the matter once and for all. As always, her two goofy tech-savvy sidekicks, Tucker (Sampson) and Specs (writer and series creator Whannell), are along to help in any way they can.

 insidious4For Elise, coming home means more than ghost busting. It also means facing her younger brother Christian (Davison, The Fosters) for the first time in 50 years. He’s not happy to see her; he resents her for running away and leaving him alone with their monster of a dad. Speaking of monsters, the demon at the center of it all is a CGI-rendered creation named KeyFace (if you’ve seen the trailer, you know why). Also in danger are Christian’s two grown daughters Imogen (Gerard, American Crime) and Melissa (Locke, the Resident Evil movies).

 Shaye is very good in Insidious: The Last Key. I’ve always admired her as an actress; she’s so versatile. It’s hard to believe she’s the same actress who portrayed hideous characters in Kingpin (horny landlady) and There’s Something About Mary (suntanned neighbor). Her Elise is a tortured soul who has carried the guilt of her mother’s death for almost her entire life. She’s spent it trying to make things right in the spiritual world. It’s more characterization than I’d expect from a horror movie.

 As for the rest of it, it’s just okay. At 103 minutes, it runs a bit too long. It gets redundant after a while with all the scenes of people walking through dark places waiting for something to jump out at them. I realize that director Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan) is trying to build suspense but he doesn’t quite pull it off. This is a problem because this why audiences show up for horror movies. They want to be scared. They want to cower in their seats. They want to watch through their fingers. Aside from a couple of half-hearted jump-scares, there’s not that much to Insidious: The Last Key. At times, it’s kind of a bore. I know what I like about it but I doubt that the average horror movie fan will share my opinion.

 On the upside, Sampson and Whannell provide a little bit of comic relief. They really are a couple of goofballs. I wish they had done a bit more with Davison’s character. As for Insidious: The Last Key being the last Insidious movie, I’ll say this. They could end it here but if it does well (which I expect it will), they will find a way to make Insidious: The New Haunting. All I ask is that they make it scary. 

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