Movie Review: “Insidious: The Last Key”
A man reaches out to Elise (Lin Shaye), claiming there is a dark, dangerous presence in his house. Elise, initially, does not intend to help because she wants to leave her spirit hunting days behind. Elise‘s mind is quickly changed when she is given the address of the man’s house. The house that is giving this man so much trouble, just so happens to be the house that Elise grew up in.
This house was a home to so much pain and suffering in Elise’s life. It is where Elise discovered her ability to communicate and interact with spirits. It was also where her father tried to oppress that ability through any means necessary. Elise was beaten and locked up if she used her gift but the spirits did not care. To the dark spirits in that house, a young Elise was a way they could interact with the world of the living. One especially dark spirit used Elise to come into the living world with the intent to hurt Elise’s family.
This house has been home to so much pain and Elise is in no hurry to return, but she fears that the spirit that haunted her family, so many years ago, has returned. Elise is not looking forward to seeing that terrible house, but she is determined to put an end to the spirit that attacked her family before it hurts someone else. Little does she realize, there are many secrets to her past in that house. Secrets that are waiting to be unlocked.
The Pros & Cons
Lin Shaye (+6pts)
Psychic & Sidekicks (-6pts)
Stale Horror (-5pts)
Elise’s Neices (+2pts)
The Mystery (-6pts)
Pro: Lin Shaye (+6pts)
Lin Shaye is, very honestly, the powerhouse of this movie. There are a lot of issues with the movie, but Lin Shaye is able to make her character interesting and make the movie watchable. She plays this character with so much heart and so much intensity that she is able to shine in a movie that makes it so difficult to do so. With a supporting cast that hurts the tone, stale horror, and a weak plot, Lin Shaye brings her A-game.
This is the fourth movie in this franchise. The first two were great, but the third and fourth installments failed to recapture what made the others so great. At this point, Lin Shaye seems to be the only hope at maintaining audience intrigue long enough for the filmmakers to fix this horror franchise. Until they do, at least we can count on compelling performances from a great actress.
Con: Psychic & Sidekicks (-6pts)
I will be honest, the sidekicks worked well in the first couple of movies. They worked so well because they provided a tiny bit of comedic flavor to the (very intense) first two movies. For a horror movie, you do not want non-stop, intense horror because the audience will become numb. These characters allowed audiences to calm down, a little, between peaks of horror. The sidekicks hardly got any focus in the first two movies. They would come into play a couple times throughout the movies, throw out a quick joke or silly moment, then pull back so as to not hurt the tone of the movie.
The balance worked well and audiences responded well to the characters. Unfortunately, the filmmakers responded to the success of these characters by making them a major focus of this movie. These guys were on screen cracking jokes for the majority of this movie, and it definitely hurt the tone. This felt like a comedy movie, which is not what audiences wanted to see. By giving the sidekicks so much screentime, the horror suffered.
Pro: Elise (+4pts)
Lin Shaye was the driving force of this film. She gave a great performance here, but I also really enjoyed the heavy character development that we got for Elise. With this movie, we learn about the house Elise grew up in, we learn about her childhood self as she was discovering her abilities, and we learn about her parents. We have seen Elise at the peak of her abilities with the first two movies, we see an up-and-coming Elise in the third movie, but this movie takes the development of this character to a whole new level.
We learn all about her family in a way that adds so many new layers to the character. This keeps the audience interested throughout this movie and could add more depth to the character through repeat viewings or the other three movies. Insidious: The Last Key was far from perfect, but Elise’s character Development was definitely one of the movie’s strengths.
Con: Stale Horror (-5pts)
This movie tried to do a lot. It wanted to further develop Elise, while introducing new characters, and giving the audience plenty of Elise’s trusted sidekicks. The film had a lot of moving parts but, at the end of the day, it was a horror film. Unfortunately, that was one of the weaker parts of the film.
The scares were stale and scarce , which made for a pretty boring horror movie. Audiences are not going to this movie for character development or jokes. Horror movies should have a solid foundation of terrifying moments. Everything else should be treated as icing on the cake. I think the filmmakers lost sight of that, as they delivered generic and unexciting horror.
Pro: Elise’s Nieces (+2pts)
I honestly do not know how many will agree with this, but I thought that the introduction of Elise’s nieces was one of the movie’s strengths. They were fresh new characters that fit into the story naturally and are a logical way to continue the franchise with stories that take place after Insidious: Chapter 2.
After the first movie, Elise’s involvement in the story becomes questionable. Then the second movie shows that the character can still be involved in specific situations. This movie introduces a specific situation that can keep Lin Shaye involved in these stories for as long as possible. She is the strongest part of these movies, so bringing in Elise’s nieces was a great decision.
Caitlin Gerard plays the niece that got the most focus in the movie. She was not in the movie much, but she did a fine job in the role and proves that her character has some real potential as a major player in future movies. I thought she was a pleasant, fresh addition to the cast. There are cool things that can be done with her character and I look forward to seeing that.
Con: The Mystery (-6pts)
I know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, but I just do not think it worked. The movie suffered a bit from sequelitis. Basically, the filmmakers tried to bring something new while also giving the fans what they have enjoyed in the previous installments. The filmmakers introduced a mystery element to the film. As the horrors were occurring in the house, there was a secret lurking all along.
The movie introduces this “mystery” element but it still plays out like any other horror movie. Elise is trying to get to the spirit that is haunting the house she grew up in, and she is doing so while coming closer and closer to uncovering a dark secret of something that happened in the house when she was a child. The mystery is there but it gets no focus. The movie still feels very much like a generic horror movie. The filmmakers should have taken the risk and delivered a horror film with some real dramatic, mysterious flavor. Instead they played it safe in an effort to not mess with the typical horror “format”. The mystery has no real pay-off and only distracts from the horror (rather than enhance it).
Grade: C- (70pts)
Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth movie in the successful Insidious franchise, but it struggles to capture the magic of the first two movies. This movie tries to bring a mystery element but the filmmakers fail to give this the attention it needed. The result was generic horror and a mystery that audiences will not care about. The filmmakers also push Elise's sidekicks to the forefront.
These two characters are comedic reliefs that worked well in previous movies. They worked well because they provided a tiny bit of comedic flavor to calm down audiences between scares. They served a purpose and it worked well, but with this movie, the sidekicks are constantly in focus and cracking jokes. They have some funny moments, sure, but they severely disrupt the tone of the movie. This is made for a horror movie where the jokes got more attention than the horror, which made the horror feel stale and generic.
The best thing about this movie was definitely Lin Shaye reprising her role as Elise. We learn a lot about Elise in this movie. We learn about her childhood, her parents, the house she grew up in, the horrors that occurred in that house, and are introduced to her two adult nieces. This movie is heavy with character development for Elise and it was entertaining to watch because of the talented actress playing the character, Lin Shaye. She carries the drama, the horror, the plot, and the intrigue throughout the entire movie. Lin Shaye is able to pull audiences into the movie and keep them invested in the events taking place. She is not enough to make up for all of the movies problems but she certainly makes up for some and makes the movie watchable. This movie is not terrible, but it has a ton of issues. I only recommend this movie if you are bored at home and can find nothing better to watch.