Insidious: The Last Key FILM REVIEW
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY
Director: Adam Robitel
Screenplay by Leigh Whannell
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Bruce Davison, Javier Botet
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
**1/2 out of *****
Photo: Universal Pictures
Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) confronts the evil that resides within the house she once lived in the latest entry in the INSIDIOUS franchise, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY.
What started out as a haunted house story had evolved into a paranormal saga. With the resounding success of 2011's INSIDIOUS, it was a foregone conclusion that there would be a sequel and one arrived in 2013. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 concluded what began in the first film but when it ended it hinted at an intriguing possible future; which has yet to be realized. The success of the second film of course fueled the fire for another film. Instead of picking up where the second film left off it was decided to go back in time and to shift the focus to the most interesting character in the series, demonologist Elise Rainier. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 tells the story about the case which brought Elise, Specs and Tucker together. Now comes the latest entry in the Rainier chronicles, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY. The new film, another prequel, is easily the best film in the series since the first but truthfully that's not saying much.
The new film has some truly engaging story elements but the conceit itself has lost its luster. The previous films and THE CONJURING films have certainly diluted this film of any real impact. Sure it has the jump scares, which are expected and often times either used effectively or stereo-typically. The atmosphere and foreboding provided little in terms of creepiness or dread as its been done before and by now audiences are familiar with the series' look and feel that it leaves little to the imagination. Now, about those story elements. THE LAST KEY also serves as Elise Rainier's origin story. The house, which is conveinently located next to a penitentiary, is one she is familiar with. They are investigating the house she grew up in. Elise's many bad memories involve both the living and the dead and now she is forced to return there for the first time. Throughout the film we witness events from the past and see how those events influence the present. These tramautic memories have an emotional impact on Elise and Lin Shaye really makes you feel her pain.
Lin Shaye gives a performance far greater than the material deserves. In fact, Shaye is the reason the film turns out better than it actually is. The scenes where she recounts her traumatic past or is forced to relive painful memories are quite affecting. You really get the sense that her past has really torn her apart. You become so empathetic with Elise that you can even forgive the most sentimental and decidedly cheesy moments in the film . Interestingly enough the performances of those in the past outshine those in the present. The actors playing the Rainier family are far more convincing than those of the actors in the present including the returning Sampson and Whannell. Their comedic schtick is overtly distracting, irritating and seldom ever even mildly humorous. Josh Stewart and Tessa Ferrer play Elise's parents and both are quite good. Ava Kolker and Hana Hayes play the young and teenage Elise, respectively. They both do a fine job of portraying Elise's confused and angst-ridden younger years. The film also features Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke and Bruce Davison.
The film was directed by Adam Robitel from a screenplay by Leigh Whannell, who also wrote the previous films in the series. Robitel does a good job of keeping the series asthetic alive and well and Whannell does enough with the story to illicit interest throughout most of the film. The problem lies in the third act and the amateurish antics of Specs and Tucker. Once the story moves back to "The Further" the film derails because its something we've seen three times before and beyond a few story elements there really is nothing new here worth exploring.
The latest entry in the series goes through the motions a third of the time but the other two-thirds involve an engrossing story anchored by an interesting character brought to life by a strong performance. It's unfortunate that the film as a whole doesn't live up to Lin Shaye's performance and it certainly would have been benefited if it focused squarely on her and less on the elements we've seen before. As is it's a decent entry made all the better thanks to Lin Shaye and Elise's origin story. Whether or not this is the last one is yet to be seen but if it's not then it's time to move the story forward instead of back.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal