Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) is having nightmares about her childhood. Her father Gerald Rainier (Josh Stewart) punished her severely whenever she talked about seeing ghosts. Her mother Audrey (Tessa Ferrer) was killed when a spirit wrapped an electric wire around her neck and hung her. Elise gets a call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo) who lives in a haunted house and wants her to come investigate. When she hears the address she recognizes it as her childhood home. Initially reluctant to take the job, Elise decides she needs to face her demons. Elise and her two tech assistants Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell) hit the road for Five Keys, New Mexico for an investigation that will take her into The Further once again. It is also a reunion of sorts for Elise and her brother Christian (Bruce Davison) whom she hasn’t seen since she ran away from her father’s abuse when she was 16. Elise also meets for the first time her nieces Imogen and Melissa (Caitlin Gerard and Spencer Locke).
Actress Lin Shaye became a big star in the horror genre with her performance in “Insidious.” (Spoiler alert) I think the filmmakers realized killing off her character in the first film was a huge mistake as she’s been the focus, in one way or another, for all four movies. With “Insidious: The Last Key” Shaye delivers another great performance as the medium with a soft spot for spirits in need; but maybe it’s time to let The Further stay far away and bring this series to an end.
Shaye is the main reason to see “Insidious: The Last Key.” Her performance is warm and sweet with just the right amount of anger when needed. She is motherly but not in a creepy or overbearing way. Elise does her best to keep Tucker and Specs in line and on mission as they are easily distracted by technological gadgets or a pretty face. Perhaps it’s her age that makes Shaye so appealing as the feisty paranormal investigator. Seeing a grandmotherly type willingly walk into the afterlife to battle spirits and demons instantly makes the audience want to root for her to succeed. Shaye is also a very good actress that has nearly 200 credits on IMDB with about 10 of them listed in pre-production, filming and in post-production. She’s now an in-demand actress thanks largely to her performance in the “Insidious” series.
The main problem with “Insidious: The Last Key” is we’ve seen all this before. While the main demon looks different than the others from the past three movies, the story points are all very similar to the other films. There also isn’t much in the way of dramatic tension as we know Elise will still be around at the end of the film as this all takes place prior to the original “Insidious.” While a few curveballs are thrown our way with the introduction of some evil characters that are very much alive and the two nieces unwittingly drawn into the weirdness, these are quickly dispatched or cleanly managed by the end of the movie.
“Insidious: The Last Key” is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language. There are scenes of beatings, some abusive, some deadly. One character is shown hung by the neck from an electrical cord. One character is thrown violently into a wall then a demon inserts skeleton keys into the character’s flesh. We are shown skulls that are supposed to be of murder victims. We see a demon impaled in the face on a sharp stick. There are numerous scares especially early in the film. Foul language is scattered and mostly mild with the exception of on F-bomb.
“Insidious: The Last Key” is the fourth chapter in the franchise and takes us chronologically back to the beginning of not only Elise’s story but of the movie series. While the first film offered fresh and truly terrifying visuals and characters, the shock value has worn off and now we are just seeing more of the same. While there are a few jump scares that are certainly effective, the focus now seems to be on the story and it simply isn’t that interesting to justify more films. Perhaps it’s best if The Further was just left behind.
“Insidious: The Last Key” gets three stars out of five.
Four new films hit your local multiplex this week. I’ll see and review at least one of the following:
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