REVIEW: Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

Theatrical Release Poster – Universal Pictures

The following is a review of Insidious: The Last Key — Directed by Adam Robitel.

Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth film in the Insidious-franchise. This one is a prequel film that is centered around Lin Shaye’s character, Elise, and how she grew up. In The Last Key, a demon brings Elise back to her childhood home to face up to her past. Meanwhile, she attempts to fix her relationship with her brother, who doesn’t want to see her.

I am one of those people who believes that James Wan is one of the true modern masters of horror. Whenever he is attached to a horror film, I pay attention to that film. And although The Conjuring is, to me, the best horror franchise he is associated with, the one image from his films that I absolutely cannot get out of my head is that jumpscare shot from the first Insidious film where a red-faced demon pops up behind Patrick Wilson.

It startled me then, and it is still the one image that I think of whenever someone mentions this franchise. I simply cannot get it out of my mind, and these films have struggled to reclaim the power of that startling image, so much so that it almost felt like, to me, that this film was trying to reference it as much as it possibly could in many of its jumpscares.

You can’t really blame horror sequels for being self-referential in their scares, but when there is so little added to the series as there is in The Last Key, then it becomes tiresome, to me. It almost felt like this sequel was made solely for the purpose of having a prequel bring the franchise full circle and back to the start of the series, which may complicate things for the inevitable fifth film in the series.

The honest truth here is that the film never got me on board. Although the film was certainly better than I had feared, it was not scary whatsoever, and the idea of the scary creature in the film is more creepy than the actual creature designed in the film. If a horror movie doesn’t scare you, then it has a problem — if the comic relief in the film always falls flat, then you’ve got another one. Insidious: The Last Key just simply did not work for me.

With all of that having been said, there are one or two things that really do work well for The Last Key, and the first one of these is that I thought Lin Shaye was really good in the lead role. Although she wasn’t playing the main character in the first film, she has proven that she can lead her own horror film — and, in a way, this has become her horror franchise.

Also, although I absolutely was annoyed by the many loud jumpscares, there were a couple of times where I was impressed by the film’s restraint. There is one pretty cool scene where you see a ghostly figure behind a character, and, when the character turns around and the figure is hit by light, the figure suddenly turns into a jacket on a coat-hanger. I also really enjoyed how another scene toyed with your expectation for jumpscares, in such a way that you become anxious waiting for the final jumpscare to startle you.

Unfortunately, in spite of the good elements that certainly are in Insidious: The Last Key, it still is just an utterly forgettable and innocuous lightweight horror franchise sequel. There is nothing terribly exciting about it, and it never lives up to the scare factor that the first film in the series had.

4.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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