Taking place between the events of prequel movie Insidious 3 and the original two Insidious films, The Last Key is a movie that focuses on the character of Elise Rainier, the psychic played by actress Lin Shaye. Whereas the character had cameo roles in the other Insidious films, she is the protagonist of this one. The story explores her childhood, growing up with an abusive father in a haunted house in New Mexico, and tells the tale of a case that calls her back, in her elderly years, to investigate supernatural occurrences transpiring in her childhood home.
Insidious: The Last Key is like watching a live band whose timing is off. Its elements never successfully cohere and it lacks a sense of pacing. The movie has the feel of something that was hastily thrown together. Characters are introduced haphazardly with little development, and the story jumps around without much in the way of connecting threads. Humor is introduced at inappropriate moments and there is an uncomfortable, almost pedophiliac, overtone to the relationships between Elise’s assistants, Specs and Tucker, and her two small-town nieces.
The film does feature some effective jump scares and a score that puts the audience on edge. It makes good use of its sets and costumes to create the “Halloween haunted house” experience these movies are so well known for. However, of the Insidious movies I found this to be the least effective. Whereas it has some good scary moments the main villain, a key-fingered demon that sticks its key into people’s bodies, comes off as silly more than it is frightening. There is also a serial killer storyline inserted that I thought seemed formulaic and unnecessary.
In total, while it has some good moments I have to say The Last Key’s flaws outweigh its strengths. I found the characters superficial to the point that I was rooting for the demons. The story felt rushed and lacked pacing, yet also managed to bore. Lin Shaye’s acting talents seemed wasted on a story that could have fleshed her character out but instead took a shallow, comic-book approach. Worst of all, though, was the general quiet in the theater during what should have been a roller coaster ride of screaming teens jumping out of their seats. It failed to deliver on the basic “fun house” experience of a “Saturday night horror flick” and it also failed to deliver as a more subtle and cerebral horror offering. As a fan of two of the other Insidious films, I found this one to be a big letdown.
Rating: 1.5 stars
Brilliant parapsychologist Elise Rainier receives a disturbing phone call from a man who claims that his house is haunted. Even more disturbing is the address — 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys, N.M. — the home where Elise grew up as a child. Accompanied by her two investigative partners, Rainier travels to Five Keys to confront and destroy her greatest fear — the demon that she accidentally set free years earlier.
Cast: Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Kirk Acevedo, Javier Botet, Bruce Davison, Spencer Locke, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker, Marcus Henderson
Directed by: Adam Robitel
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Based on Characters Created by: Leigh Whannell