Insidious: The Last Key
By: Arlene Allen
When I go see any horror movie, I expect certain things: I want a coherent plot, I want to be psychologically creeped out and I want a bunch of good, fun jump scares to elicit yelps and shrieks. Insidious: The Last Key delivers on almost all of these, pretty much right from the get-go.
The film opens with the Insidious franchise’s beloved psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) having nightmares about her childhood. It turns out her father (Josh Stewart) was the warden of a prison in Five Keys, New Mexico. Every time an inmate was put to death, the power in her house would fade in and out. Naturally, such a place was haunted and Elise could sense not only the men suffering and killed in the prison, but the home’s previous owners as well. Her dad was a cruel man who didn’t believe in ghosts and tried to beat “the sight” out of Elise, but her mother understood and tried to protect the little girl – right up until her mother was murdered in the house.
Elise awakens to the present and gets a call from the current day owner of the house (Kirk Acevedo). At first, Elise doesn’t want to return to the awful old place, but of course realizes she must return and literally face her own demons. Along with fellow ghost hunters Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell) – “She’s the psychic, we’re the sidekicks” – she heads back to the now deserted prison and her hated childhood home.
What follows is more than your usual haunted house, here-be-demons type of story. There’s a murder mystery here too and a few plot twists you will absolutely not see coming. There’s also a surprisingly heartwarming theme about familial love and we’re introduced to a brother (Bruce Davison) and nieces (Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke) no one even knew Elise had. Of course, there are plenty of good creepy moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat, just waiting for that something scary to happen, but the best jump-scare of the whole movie comes just when you have been lulled into thinking something else is going to happen. I deafened the unfortunate soul sitting next to me, but wow – it was awesome!
I loved Specs and Tucker. The actors play very well off each other and provide the film with much needed comic relief, as usual. By now most people know that Leigh Whannell (Specs) is one of the creators of the Insidious franchise and is one of the co-writers of the movie. I absolutely loved Lin Shaye’s performance (yet again) and really enjoyed seeing a middle aged woman carrying a lead in a horror movie and kicking ghost and demon butt.
The key monster was terrifying and being a Blumhouse film, the makeup and special effects were incredible. However, there were a few plot holes that made this a less than perfect movie and that’s disappointing because it had the potential to be perfect. The mystery I mentioned? It’s never fully explained or wrapped up. (I can’t say more than that because of spoilers, but the implication is that it had gone on for decades. How did the perpetrator get away with it?) It seemed to have implied someone was controlling the perp, but nothing was done with that idea beyond a throwaway sentence. The prison ghosts and mystery are never fully addressed as well and the key monster’s motives are never clear, nor what it is he actually does, nor what it is the keys unlock and nor what exactly is the last key – although that can be surmised, maybe. The film is just shy of two hours, (there’s definitely a great deal of story here) but I really wish they could have gone into more detail into some of the plot threads they dangle before us.
This definitely won’t be the last Insidious movie, by any means. The last scenes in the movie, featuring one last wicked jump-scare, sets up the plot for Insidious 5. That’s not a bad thing; this franchise is one of the most fun horror sequences around today. Overall, Insidious: The Last Key is a decent film. If you’re looking for a horror film to snuggle up to on a cold winter’s night, this is certainly a great pick!