By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

After the first Insidious left me unimpressed and the second and prequel installments moderately entertained me, the sequel-to-the-prequel movie not only tries to bring everything full circle, but once again falls short.  Insidious: The Last Key more or less picks up where Insidious: Chapter 3 ends and gives Elise Rainer her most personal challenge.  Though the filmmakers take the story to some interesting places, the movie failed to keep me invested and simply did not scare me.  Because the movie just doesn’t completely work for me, I sincerely hope that The Last Key will be the last chapter.

Ever since she was a young child, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) has had the ability to communicate with ghosts and spirits.  In her childhood home she had multiple paranormal experiences until she moved away and would not return to that home for many years.  In 2010, just before the events of the very first Insidious, Rainer and her partners Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell) get called back to that house by the new owner, as he is haunted by supernatural beings.  Elise very reluctantly agrees to help because not only will she have to possibly face supernatural demons,  she will also have to revisit some personal demons from her tempestuous past.

Written by Leigh Whannell and with Adam Robitel taking over the director duties, The Last Key starts off with a riveting glimpse into Elise Rainer’s childhood, and offers some surprises along the way, but ultimately disappoints when it comes to scares and the film’s climax.  What should be thrilling, edge-of-the seat moments and frightening horror beats turn out to be corny, hackneyed and even laughable.  The filmmakers rely too much on jump scares ridiculously obvious that even a jack-in-the-box toy is more startling.  Adam Robitel and his crew do a fine job creating the perfect setting and mood, but just don’t deliver any genuine frights.  A little more than halfway through, I got bored with the movie and found myself more entertained with the unintentional humor.  Even most of the intended humor falls flat which is rather disappointing given how much I enjoy the series’ comic foils Tucker and Specs.

Everyone in the film seems to offer decent performances despite the limitations of the script and the direction.  I was somewhat disappointed with the performance of Lin Shaye, though.  In the previous films, Shaye has performed wonderfully, but here she can’t seem to make the cheesy, over-the-top scenes work with the necessary gravity that key dramatic sequences should have.  I don’t feel it is entirely her fault, though.  I think poor direction and lousy writing are mostly to blame.  The movie also features passable work by Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, and Bruce Davison.  On the other hand, I was impressed with young actors Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Hannah Hayes, and Thomas Robie who portray Elise and her brother Christian during their childhood and teenage years.  I feel that these young thespians actually outshine the adults in the film.

And perhaps had the filmmakers kept the movie completely set during Elise’s childhood, they might have come up with a better movie.  Even though I like the sound of this idea, I am not completely on board with yet another Insidious movie installment.  Filmmakers will need to come up with something really bold and inventive to keep this franchise from totally sinking.  Otherwise, I think they should end it before things get seriously embarrassing.



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