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Movie Review: “Insidious: The Last Key”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Insidious: The Last Key

Theatrical Release: 1/5/2018

Theatrical Release: 1/5/2018

Synopsis

A man has reached 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 her, but her 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 was the house where Elise discovered her gift, but it was also a house in which her and her family endured a lot of pain and misery. She is in no hurry to return to the house that has given her so much pain, but she fears that the spirit that haunted her family so many years ago has returned. Elise is determined to put an end to the spirit that attacked her family before it hurts anyone else. Little does she realize, the house also contains many dark secrets that tie back to her families' time in the home, dark secrets that are just waiting to be unlocked.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Lin Shaye (+6pts)

Psychic & Sidekicks (-6pts)

Elise (+4pts)

Stale Horror (-5pts)

Elise’s Neices (+2pts)

The Mystery (-6pts)

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Pro: Lin Shaye (+6pts)

Lin Shaye was very honestly the powerhouse of this movie. There are a lot of issues with the movie, but Lin Shaye was able to make her character interesting and she was able to make the movie watchable. She played this character with heart and intensity, and she shined in an otherwise dull movie. With a supporting cast that hurt the tone of the movie, stale horror, and a weak plot, Lin Shaye still brought her A-game. This was the fourth movie in this franchise. The first two were great, but the third and fourth installments failed to recapture what the others got so right. Nonetheless, Lin Shaye has been a strength for each of these movies that she has been a part of.

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Con: Psychic & Sidekicks (-6pts)

I may be alone here, but I thought the sidekicks worked well in the first couple of movies. I thought they worked so well because they provided a tiny bit of comedic flavor to the otherwise intense first two movies. For a horror movie, you do not want non-stop, intense horror because the audience can become desensitized to it. These characters allowed audiences to calm down a little between peaks in the horror.

The sidekicks hardly got any focus in the first two movies. They would come in at various points in the movies, throw out a quick joke or silly moment, then jump back onto the back-burner so that things never got too silly. 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 I thought it hurt the tone. It made it feel like a comedy movie in some areas, which is not what audiences wanted to see, and I thought the horror ended up suffering.

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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 learned about the house Elise grew up in, we learned about her childhood self as she was discovering her abilities, and we learned about her parents. We have seen Elise at the peak of her abilities in the first two movies, we saw an up-and-coming Elise in the third movie, but the filmmakers of this movie made the development of Elise a focal point. We learned all about her family in a way that made Elise far more complex and layered than the one-dimensional expert we knew from the other movies. This kept the audience interested throughout this movie and could make repeat viewings of the other three movies more interesting. Insidious: The Last Key was far from perfect, but Elise’s character development was definitely one of the movie’s strengths.

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Con: Stale Horror (-5pts)

This movie tried to do a lot. It wanted to further develop Elise, while introducing new characters, and giving the Elise’s trusted sidekicks plenty of screentime. The movie had a lot of moving parts, but at the end of the day, it was a horror movie. Unfortunately, that was one of the weaker parts of the movie.

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 alone. Horror movies should have a solid foundation of terrifying or startling moments. That does not mean that the filmmakers should ignore everything else, but horror is obviously a key ingredient to a horror movie. Unfortunately, I think the filmmakers lost sight of that, as they delivered generic and unexciting horror.

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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 very naturally, and were a logical way to continue the franchise with stories that take place after Insidious: Chapter 2. After the first movie, Elise’s involvement becomes questionable for obvious reasons. Then the second movie showed that the character can still be involved, but only in very specific situations.

This movie brought Elise into the story by having it take place before the events of the first movie, but by doing so, the filmmakers were also able to establish other potential paranormal experts that could be used in later movies—Elise’s nieces. Caitlin Gerard played the niece that got the most focus. She was not in the movie much, but she did a fine job in the role and proved that her character has some real potential as a major player in future movies—if those movies even happen—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, if the filmmakers decide to go down that path.

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Con: The Mystery (-6pts)

I know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, but I just did not think it worked. The filmmakers tried to bring something new to the franchise, while also giving the fans what they have enjoyed in the previous installments. That new thing that the filmmakers tried to add was a mystery element. As the horrors were occurring in the house, there was a secret lurking all along, a secret that ties back to Elise's childhood in the home.

The filmmakers introduced this mystery, but the movie still played out like any other horror movie. Elise was trying to get to the spirit that was haunting the house she grew up in, and she was doing so while coming closer and closer to uncovering a dark secret of something that happened in the house when she was a child. I liked the idea of adding more mystery to this franchise, as it could have helped keep the franchise fresh. However, I do not think the filmmakers knew how to balance the mystery and the horror properly. The result was a movie in which the horror was nothing special, and the mystery did not get enough focus or development for me to really care about it.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (70pts)

Insidious: The Last Key was the fourth movie in the franchise, but it struggle to capture the magic of the first two movies. This movie tried to bring a mystery element into the franchise, but the filmmakers failed to give this the attention it needed. The result was a movie with generic horror and a mystery that audiences will not care about. The filmmakers also pushed Elise's sidekicks to the forefront, and I thought that this was a mistake. They had some funny moments, sure, but I think these characters are much better in the background.

The best thing about this movie was Lin Shaye reprising her role as Elise. We learned about her childhood, her parents, the house she grew up in, the horrors that occurred in that house, and we were introduced to her two adult nieces. I enjoyed all of this, and I enjoyed the additions of the two nieces, specifically the one that got more focus, played by Caitlin Gerard. She was a fresh new addition to the characters in this franchise, and left me excited to see what the filmmakers could do with the character in future movies, if they choose to go down that path. Unfortunately, despite the movie's strengths, its weaknesses were overwhelming, and it ended up being a horror movie that I thought was barely watchable.