- Movie Rating -

Insidious: The Last Key

| January 4, 2018

Perhaps no one involved in the making of 2010’s first Insidious movie really understood what an invaluable asset they had in Lin Shaye.  Her character, professional psychic Elise Rainer, was the film’s most memorable character, but unfortunately that film ended with her untimely death.  Ever since, in three successive sequels, director and series co-creator Leigh Whannell has had a heck of a time bending and twisting the narrative timeline to get around that.  She appears in all three of the sequels but since the time between Elise meeting her goofy sidekicks Tucker and Specs and her death is so short, the series is creating a narrow box of time that is getting more and more difficult to deal with.

It’s been a weird trip.  Insidious Part 2 was a very long analytical epilogue to the first movie.  Insidious Part 3 was a protracted prequel that tried to deal with how Elise got into the ghostbusting business with Tucker and Specs.  And now Insidious: The Last Key attempts to deal with her tragic familial backstory.  Yes, we get to see the spooky early days of Elise Rainer, daughter to an abusive father Gerald (Josh Stewart) and possessor of a haunted gift.  Its no surprise to learn that all her life she has lived in a world of ghosts, nor that her gift led to the death of her angelic and understanding mother (Tessa Ferrar) and a lifelong estrangement from her brother Christian (played in early scenes by Pierce Pope and later by Bruce Davison).

Presently, she gets a call to come back to New Mexico to help Christian’s daughters who are having problems with a violent spirit that is tied to the house that is – you guessed it – the very same house that Elise grew up in.  That means that she gets to revisit and exorcise a lot of demons of her past, both figuratively and literally.

None of the set up is really all that important.  The point of this film – and, in fact, the entire series – is to establish a series of dark and creepy set ups with monsters and dark corners and eerie connections to the past.  These movies are like Poltergeist minus the roller coaster effect.  Last Key is clumsy and half-baked and spends a lot of time in so much deep blue darkness that it is sometimes hard to tell what is going on.

I would be dead-set on giving the movie two stars were it not for the presence of Lin Shaye.  I, like the filmmakers, have come to realize that she is basically invaluable to this series and that killing her off in the first movie caused a conundrum that has made the rest of the series difficult to deal with in terms of its timeline.  There is something about her that we like, a materteral connection that is hard to dismiss.

I don’t know if there are plans for an Insidious 5 – I hope not.  I’ve had all the ups and downs with Elise Rainer that I really want for a while.  I would love to see Whannell and Shaye move on and try something else, maybe a comedy, maybe a domestic drama.  Move out of the horror genre and give Shaye another role to play, one that doesn’t exist in a world of ghosts.  I sense that there are many notes that she could play without jump scares.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2018) View IMDB Filed in: Horror