This should be interesting.

Alright, so a little heads up. I am actually not familiar with the Insidious franchise. Clarification: I am aware that the franchise exists, but I have never seen the films. They came around both when I wasn’t seeing every movie coming out and when I shunned horror films as cheap jump scare porn. Generally speaking, I still think that way, but ever since blogging, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are at least a few good ones released each year, or ones that have more effort thrown in.

This is not one of those movies. Not that I’ve seen it yet, but I can already tell that it’s going to be a jump-fest with little else to it. It’s a horror film released in January. There’s no such thing as a good horror film in January. Remember THE BYE BYE MAN (2017)? Released January 13. Don’t try and convince me that this is good.

Anyway, all I know about the movie is that it’s the fourth made film of the series, but technically the second installment, chronologically, as far as the stories go. In other words, the order goes, CHAPTER 3 (2015), THE LAST KEY, INSIDIOUS (2010), and CHAPTER 2 (2013). In an attempt to not get completely lost watching this flick, I’ve watched Youtube’s FoundFlix’s “INSIDIOUS trilogy explained” video, so I’ve had a ton of spoilers. I’m assuming everyone seeing this movie is only seeing it because they’re familiar with the franchise, so I won’t bother trying to explain the previous films. They’re pretty complicated anyway.

This story looks like it’s about Elise, paranormal investigator and primary protagonist of the other films, going back to her childhood/family home to confront one of her greatest demons. But in order to combat it, she needs to travel deeper into the spiritual ghost-demon world called The Further. And somehow a teen or young woman is involved in all this.

Here’s the cast. Starring we have Lin Shaye (OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL [2016], PLEDGE THIS! [2006], THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY [1998], A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET [1984], and upcoming films HERBERT WEST: REANIMATOR [2018] and KILLING WINSTON JONES [2018]), Javier Botet (IT [2017], MAMA [2013], {REC} [2007], and upcoming films SLENDER MAN [2018] MARA [2018]), Leigh Whannell (THE BYE BYE MAN [speaking of which], LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE [2010], and THE MATRIX RELOAD [2003]), Angus Sampson (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015], LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE [2009], and the upcoming WINCHESTER [2018]), and Spencer Locke (Resident Evils AFTERLIFE [2010] and EXTINCTION [2007], and MONSTER HOUSE [2006]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Adam Robitel, known for unknown stuff, but is slated to star and direct the upcoming THE MAZE (2018). Penning the screenplay is co-star, Whannell, known for DEAD SILENCE (2007), SAW (2004), and the upcoming UPGRADE (2018). Composing the score is Joseph Bishara, known for THE CONJURING 2 (2016), ANNABELLE (2014), and THE COVENANT (2000). The cinematographer is Toby Oliver, known for HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017), GET OUT (2017), THE DARKNESS (2016), and the upcoming BREAKING IN (2018). Finally, the editor is Timothy Alverson, known for THE DARKNESS, ORPHAN (2009), DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007), and the upcoming DELIRIUM (2018).

Overall, no, I’m not looking forward to this. But this is mostly because it looks like it’s going to be jump scares galore and because it’s so tightly linked to the other three, I’m going to be totally lost as far as the story. I give props that the creature make-up looks good and I do think the concept of The Further sounds really cool in how everything connects the previous films, but… yeah, this “keyface” monster’s key fingers look really silly. I don’t think I’ll like this.

This is my honest opinion of: INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY

(SUMMARY)

Set in Five Keys, New Mexico, circa 2010. Paranormal investigator Elise (Lin Shaye) has just received a phone call to check out a man’s home that he strongly believes is being haunted. But the house isn’t any ole house. It’s the house that Elise used to live in when she was young, where years ago, her mother Audrey (Tessa Ferrer) was killed by an evil presence and her father (Josh Stewart) spent years physically harming her to prevent her from seeing the ghosts she saw. He blamed her for her mother’s death and in time, ran away from the misery, leaving behind her younger brother Christian (Bruce Davison) to suffer with their father. Upon arrival to her home, she reunites unhappily with Christian, but happily meets her nieces, Imogen (Caitlin Gerard) and Melissa (Spencer Locke). But the more time she spends in the house, aided by the benevolent spirit of Anna (Aleque Reid), a woman she’d encountered years ago, the evil in the house may not be what was originally perceived.

(REVIEW)

Sorry if my summary gave a little too much of the backstory away. My only consolation is that it’s not full of spoilers. Anyway, I think for a January released horror film, it’s not… that bad. Okay, I won’t say that it’s any good, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in checking out the previous films to get the full spectrum of the story. But that’s neither here nor there. This is about… er, this movie.

First off, I’ve never heard of Shaye. I’ve seen plenty of her movies, but I never remembered her face. By God, how can that be? She’s a wonderful actress and I think Elise is a pretty distinguished character. She never seems like she truly wants to confront these evil spirits, but she is courageous enough to be more compelled to help than run. When Elise confronts her brother, her expressions speak volumes. You feel the weight of her guilt, joy, fear, there’s great stuff in this, acting-wise from her. It’s easy to care about her, I wanted her to make through to the end, I really do kind of want to check out the other movies to see her inception.

I also really enjoy certain ideas presented as well. I can’t claim to know if this is a theme in the franchise, but I like how some spirits in the house aren’t just there to spook for shits and giggles. No, there are ghosts that actively try to help Elise through her time in the house, solving other mysteries of the house. Was this what the TV show GHOST WHISPERER (2005 – 2010) was about? If so, I’m sad I missed out on it. In any case, I wouldn’t mind seeing a prequel series about a younger Elise going around doing something like that. Or hell, an Insidious TV show where that’s the premise: solving mysteries with the help of good ghosts and defeating the bag guys. Okay, someone out there can pitch it a lot better than I could, but either way, I would be interested. I also really liked how the mother knew about her Elise’s gifts and believed her. That’s pretty refreshing.

And there are some neat effects. There’s this one scene where Elise is in her haunted bedroom and you think you see her shadow, but the shadow slowly starts walking toward her. She turns around and shines a light on it, seeing that the entity has faked her out and sees the old military jackets her father had, all done in one shot. That was pretty cool. And despite how silly and nonthreatening I think the key-fingers are, I was right in that the make-up for Keyface is pretty creepy too, and with a slightly creepy power of muting a victim’s screaming. That’s honestly the scariest part of the film and it’s utilized effectively.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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And the emotions are pretty strong too. We eventually learn that there’s a reason why both Ted (Kirk Acevedo) and Gerald were violent and harmed women in the exact same fashion; Keyface had controlled their actions, kind of. At least, my interpretation was that they were naturally weak-willed men to begin with and were more susceptible to his influence, eventually dominating their minds completely. So when Elise figures all this out in The Further and being manipulated by Keyface, I really liked how Gerald regained control of his own actions and managed to sacrifice himself to save Elise before dissolving into nothing. But the absolute best parts are when Elise is reunited with her mother, Audrey (Tessa Ferrer), who kicks some serious Keyface ass. It was highly satisfying to see that. But on the more emotional side, there’s some brief silences where the mother and daughter look at each other and you see such sorry, sadness, and joy in Elise’s eyes I almost got choked up.

 

And now that the franchise has come full circle, I can see how the Insidious franchise can continue without Elise. Both sisters survived their run-in with Keyface and both seem to have the out-of-body experience to go into The Further. I’m also guessing that the nieces aren’t referenced in the first couple films, so it’s possible that one or both Imogen and Melissa will take up the reigns and become paranormal investigators themselves. Like I said, continuation or TV show. Down for both. They may not be the most developed or interesting of characters as it stands, but with good writing, that can change in a possible future installment.

 

 

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***END SPOILERS***

So for a January released horror film, I found that there are some surprisingly good qualities in this movie. But… does that make this movie good? Eh… I can’t say that. For as strong as the good elements are, there’s one too many problems that I can’t overlook.

Smaller issues are the contrivances. Like the diner scene where Elise is reunited with Christian and his daughter. Elise takes one look at Melissa and immediately thinks she looks like her deceased mother? Um… no, she does not. She looks like a standard pretty young blond. And the way Elise looked at her was borderline creepy. But Christian comes into the picture… seriously, they recognized each other right away? Elise left her family when she was still young. It’s implied that she hadn’t kept in contact with Christian since. That’s a whole set of growth and physical changes that she missed out on. His teens, young adult, and regular adult years, all the way into the present where he’s an old man. You can’t convince me that he looks exactly like he did as a kid. Also, the way he reacts to seeing Elise, you’d think she had abandoned him yesterday. But it’s been decades. He’s had ample time to come to grips with his childhood. I would understand his hesitation to forgive Elise for her actions, even to simply hug her, but the way he reacts so bluntly upset, it’s a little jarring. I didn’t see a grown man with conflicted emotions. I saw a little kid in a grown man’s body. There’s no way he’d be holding his grudge this intensely after all this time.

The writing is also subpar in some cases. Like when Ted first calls Elise and she realizes that the address he’s giving her is her old home address, she immediately blows him off. Okay, cool, I get that. But then the next scene is her talking to Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), where she then says that she’s going to accept the job anyway. Um… well that was a pointless moment. In that exact same scene, she also has this really brief, but brutal line that goes, “I call it a house because it wasn’t a home,” or something to that effect, describing her family life after her mother’s death. Yeah, kindergartners know that metaphor. These awkward lines from the better written characters are rare, but their presence is still irksome.

The movie is also pretty predictable. When Elise’s mother gives a young Christian a whistle if he’s too scared, I immediately knew that the whistle was going to come back into the story for haunting purposes. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happens. And seriously, when Christian lost it as a kid, no one thought to look under the bed where it happened to be all these decades later? Even if you wanted to assume that they did and ghosts were hiding it, that’s a thin excuse. The only ghost who uses the whistle is Anna and she wasn’t haunting the house at that time, so it’s just a stupid discovery.

And seriously, does every movie have to have its monster move in a stop-motion way? Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy as hell and an instant goosebump factory for me, but Keyface only does it once and doesn’t ever do it again in the movie. So what was the point in that?

But the cardinal sin of the film is the support, Specs and Tucker. At first, there was a charm factor to them. They had some funny lines and reactions, and even refuse to let Elise go back to her old home alone, showing off kind and supportive guys. But then everything gets thrown to the wayside. Specs and Tucker relentlessly hit on Melissa and Imogen and all of their charm is sapped away. Specs is that stereotypical nerd who can’t talk to girls, constantly saying awkward things that are supposed to be awkwardly funny, but instead comes off as awkwardly awkward. He even geeks out when he spots a comic book in a closet and cracks jokes while Elise and Melissa are possibly dying in The Further. Yeah, real mature, bro. But the absolute worst is Tucker. Never mind that he’s also just as unfunny as Specs, but he’s creepy as hell. He stares at the sisters like he wants to put their eyeballs in jars. And he relentlessly comments on how attractive they are, right in front of their aunt, who is also his employer. He even attempts to go in to kiss one of the sisters! Dude! He’s known these women for less than an hour and have had probably less than ten minutes of real interaction with them and thinks he has the clout to go in for a kiss?! This behavior is brutally consistent throughout the film and severely hurts it.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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Remember when I said I can see Imogen and Melissa helming any possible future installments to the franchise? While I stand by that, I know that moving forward would mean involving Specs and Tucker, which I don’t want to see. I don’t need to see them constantly flirting with the women as they try to do their jobs, or to see the women get taken in by their flirting, which would be even worse. If a sequel were to happen with the sisters as the central characters, don’t include Specs and Tucker, or overhaul their personalities to make them more likable. Either way, I’d much rather see the sisters do their thing, not this unfunny comic relief do their thing.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, the movie surprisingly better than I thought. It’s got solid performances from Shaye, an interesting supernatural world, and leaves open some directions that I wouldn’t mind seeing this franchise take if it chooses to do them well. But for every one good thing, there’s two or three things bad waiting around the corner. It’s jump scare porn, some twists are pretty stupid, and a lot of the writing isn’t polished. Despite it all, I’m interested in seeing the previous films and would like to get the full spectrum of the world established here. I think if you’ve been a fan of the franchise, you’ll probably like this movie enough. I can’t say if it’s the best or the worst of the four films, so I’ll let the fanboys and girls decide for themselves. As someone who went in blind, it had something of merit. I probably won’t watch it again, nor would I recommend full price in theaters (matinee or discount day if your local cinemas does that) but it was worth sitting on once. Fear came home and it was a lukewarm visit.

My honest rating for INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY: a strong 3/5

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7 Replies to “INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY review”

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