The fourth film decides to play it safe and stick with what has made it a successful series.
Released in 2010, Insidious was enough of a commercial success to start a franchise. Insidious: The Last Key is a direct sequel to 2015’s Insidious: Chapter 3, which are both prequels to the first two films. Unsurprisingly, the fourth film decides to play it safe and stick with what has made it a successful series. The movie is painfully ordinary before making some horrible missteps.
As is the case with most franchises, Insidious: The Last Key suffers from fatigue. The series has continually told the same story with small changes. Elsie Rainier, Specs, and Tucker get a call to investigate another haunted house, but this time it is the house Elsie grew up in. All the usual tricks are here: children whisper ominously, mysterious handprints are found on walls, and multiple scenes are done in a darkish blue light. The writing is also tired. Jokes fall flat and there is a constant stream of cringe worthy dialogue (“I lived in a house, not a home.”) There is also a lack of character development. It is up to the story to carry this installment.
Unfortunately, the story in The Last Key also fails. The pacing is the most noticeable problem. After an interminably long prologue, the pace kicks into overdrive. The pace then grinds to a halt before speeding back up. This happens throughout the entire movie. The audience is left with a series of “scary” scenes without anything important in between. Since it is a prequel, the movie also lacks the uncertainty of which main characters will survive. Oddly, when something seemingly important does happen, it occurs at an accelerated pace. For example, family members are located, explain their life stories, and earn each other’s unwavering trust within minutes. Worst, one of these rushed moments occurs during a climactic scene. Lin Shaye (Elsie) does her best to rise above everything, but is continually shackled by the writing (“I have no memories, just scars.”)
The worst thing about The Last Key is how oblivious it is. Every day another celebrity is accused of committing horrific acts. While The Last Key does not address these issues (nor should it have to), one of the key plot points is captive women that are literally chained to walls. The actions of their male captors are explained away in a throwaway line as not being their faults but due to a malevolent force. Even worse, one of the kidnappers makes the ultimate sacrifice when someone is in danger. This comes off as more insulting than anything else.
Insidious: The Last Key is your typical horror movie. It does nothing especially good or bad. However, as it continues, flaws become more apparent. By the time the movie tries to garner sympathy for a man who mercilessly beats a woman, it is apparent the franchise has run its course.