Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth film in the Insidious quadrilogy. I have been a fan of the series since the very first entry and have been eagerly anticipating this film. Franchise favorite Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) must venture back to her childhood home to face down a demon that she encountered as a child. Leigh Whannell once again wrote the script but Adam Robitel takes the reigns as director in this fourth entry. News of the new director had fans wondering if he had the chops to pull off what the first three films accomplished. Did he have what it takes? Was The Last Key able to measure up to its predecessors?
Lin Shaye is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to pulling off her role. She is bewitching in her portrayal of Elise Rainier and acts as a puppeteer pulling at just the right strings at the right moments, all for her audience’s benefit. Centering the film around her and her backstory was incredibly intelligent, as we have had three movies to emotionally connect with her. So, when she is up against a demon Keyface, there is a genuine fear the audience has for their favorite character of this franchise.
Keyface is a really cool concept. With fingers that are supernatural keys, an ominous motive, and plenty of abilities, he proves to be quite a formidable opponent for Elise. After all, he is the demon that has haunted her for years and can still cause the hairs on the back of her neck to stand up. Leigh Whannell does an amazing job coming up with creative villains as well as great scripts.
In typical Leigh Whannell fashion, the story is dripping with twists and turns that will have your jaw dropping. It is what he does best. The story is an absolutely phenomenal, fun ride. There also is a bit of humor injected in random spots to relieve the tension of the dark subject matter. This acts as a double-edged sword. So, let’s move on to what didn’t work.
What Didn’t Work:
When I left Insidious: Chapter 3, my body literally ached. That is the first film in a very long time that caused me to be so tense from fear and anticipation that it had a physical effect on me. I actually jumped out of my seat and screamed at a few points in the film. My heart raced throughout the entire thing, I held my breath more times than I can count, and prayed for the film to have mercy on me, for just two minutes, so that I could regain my composure.
Insidious: The Last Key did not evoke that same fear. In fact, it didn’t evoke much of anything from me at all. I feared for Elise’s safety because I genuinely love her character, but I did not feel fear in the primitive sense. Unlike Chapter 3, I was silently pleading with the film to turn it up a notch. It seemed as if they went for the more traditional style of telling a ghost story instead of what we are used to receiving from the franchise. A great villain just doesn’t cut it sometimes.
As I said earlier, Keyface is an amazing villain. Giving him multiple abilities to achieve a terrifying goal makes the audience genuinely frightened of him, at least conceptually. However, I don’t feel like they used him enough. He was clearly an intricately thought out antagonist, yet we don’t get to see him as much as I would have liked. As a character, we don’t get to explore the layers he has and that is a shame. In my opinion, he just ended up being a conceptually great villain but the reality of pulling him off fell a bit flat.
Even with Lin Shaye’s amazing performance, Insidious: The Last Key ends up feeling a bit lack-luster. The scares just weren’t there. There was a sense of choppiness in the film’s storytelling, and it felt like it was just missing something. I don’t want to put it all on the film having a new director, but that is the only major new ingredient in this entry. James Wan directed the first two, and Leigh Whannell directed the third. Both have a tonally similar style and if I had to put my finger on what was missing in Insidious: The Last Key, it would be the tone. It just wasn’t up to par.
If you’re a fan of the Insidious series, go see this film. There are plenty of good qualities that Insidious: The Last Key possesses. There is a lot of development in the canon of the franchise, Lin Shaye is still amazing as our favorite psychic, and plot-wise, it is pretty solid. For me, it did fall a bit short of what I wanted, but I still support the franchise and want them to continue making them. In Hollywood, that only happens if the money is right. So, support it because you love the series and you want more. Maybe the next one will redeem the franchise back to the glory it once was at.