Friday, January 5

Insidious: the Last Key

Insidious: The Last Key

Dir: Adam Robitel

Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, and Josh Stewart

“The Further”, the foggy spirit space where supernatural entities exist, has been explored numerous times within the frightening franchise “Insidious”. The liaison into the darkness is a psychic named Elise, played with vigor by actress Lin Shaye, however she does more than just connect people to the other side. Elise is a protector of sorts, a medium who rids the world of evil spirits; she has encountered terrible entities throughout her entire life. 

“Insidious: The Last Key”, the fourth installment in the franchise, focuses on the somber and tragic life of Elise. Directed by Adam Robitel, who made the underrated 2014 horror film “The Taking of Deborah Logan”, provides Lin Shaye with the opportunity to shine as the lead of this film while also executing an effective scare or two. Unfortunately the narrative stumbles into overused cliches, uninteresting setups, and ghosts that never conjure the scares this franchise is known for. 

We are introduced to Elise (played as a youth by Ava Kolker and as an adult by Lin Shaye) as a child growing up with her family in a large home located next to a prison in Five Keys, New Mexico. Elise’s father Gerald (Josh Stewart) works at the prison, he is abusive towards Elise and her brother Christian (played as a youth by Pierce Pope and as an adult by Bruce Davison). Elise’s supernatural gift brings about an evil entity that attaches itself to Elise’s family and anyone who lives inside the house after them.

It’s about time Lin Shaye was given the spotlight for this franchise. Her character is one of the more interesting parts about these films, offering a character who seems fearless yet is still affected by the scary encounters because she understands that real consequences exist with the terrible spirits she is hunting. Ms. Shaye gives it her all here, the performance holds much of the film together. It is unfortunate that many times in the film she is provided with some cringe-worthy dialogue and moments that never really tap into the emotional qualities of the character.

The film jumps throughout a few different timelines, transitioning from Elise’s life as a young woman in her family home to her life as a grown adult with her new quirky family of Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), the spectral hunting team that documents Elise’s travels. The other timeline concerns the history of the franchise, as this film aims to tie everything in the “Insidious” universe together. The composition of the film does a decent job of jumping throughout the different stories, but with everything trying to be told here some aspects feels rushed while others are completely overlooked. The film builds towards a climax that doesn’t feel very satisfying, which is a disservice to the franchise favorite characters on display here.

Mr. Robitel does a fine job of building an atmosphere, sometimes toying with expectations in amusing, less frightful, ways. The film composes moments that should satisfy fans of the franchise even though it doesn’t have the polish of the original film and doesn’t always craft the purposeful jump scares of the second or third film. While “Insidious: The Last Key” may be scarce on scares and story, it’s nice having Lin Shaye’s character in the spotlight here. 

Monte’s Rating 

2.75 out of 5.00

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