Insidious: The last Key is Ambitious & Character Driven but They Put The Scariest Stuff Too Early (Review)

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It’s January again, that time of year when everyone’s exhausted and broke from the holidays and nobody feels like going to see anything.    What brave movie maker wants to release something then?  Stuff that would go straight to DVD otherwise, that’s what.  This week it was Insidious: The Last Key and while it may not be a gem, it’s certainly not the usual January-level bad, regardless of what Rotten Tomatoes might tell you. Maybe I’m using a different rating scale for January than I would for any other time of year, but  I liked this movie.  It wasn’t terrible.

Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home.


I haven’t seen the other Insidiouses.  I kept calling this movie ‘Sinister: The Last Key’ (not a thing) and then confusing the plot with Paranormal Activity.  I’d say I don’t know why, but I do – so many horror movies are the same.  Household terrorized by evil that starts slow and picks on the kids first, then escalated exponentially until the good guys die or win or both.  I’m happy to say that Insidious: The Last Key tries to step away from that formula and give us something new.  There’s character development, high emotional stakes (for emotions other than fear and dread, that is) and even an attempt at symbolism.  Not to mention some truly terrifying scenes, especially right near the beginning.  One with some suitcases comes to mind.

Not all of these work.  There’s symbolism – they keep coming back to Keys, what they unlock, what they lock, and possible implications of that.  But then nothing actually comes of it.  Same with the scary bits (you know, the actual Horror part of ‘horror film’).   Yes, they were pee-your-pants-scary jump scares, but they didn’t start small and accelerate as the plot went on.  It only got so intense and then leveled off so I didn’t get that catharsis at the end when it was Finally Over.  Though I loved the particular ‘flavor’ of horror on this film, it was mingled with real-world Terrible Things and gave it a richness that most horror films just don’t have.   I only wish Insidious: The Last Key had done more with it.

The acting was great though.  A powerful performance from Lin Shaye, who gave the role an intensity and gravitas that carried the entire film.   Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell were good but were mostly used for comedic relief, which didn’t work.  They were supposed to be funny but were just creepy (in the unfun way).  When those characters weren’t trying to be funny, they were awesome.  And there was Kirk Acevedo, who was excellent (and handsome).  I get the feeling that they wanted to put more character development in than would fit, so it seemed like we were being told stuff that the film would have preferred to show us.  But it didn’t have time – Insidious: The Last Key was perfectly paced – textbook – and came in at an ideal 1 hour, 43 minutes.

So is Insidious: The Last Key worth watching?  Yes, I’d say so.  It’s better than a lot of horror out there (say, Ouija or Annabelle), despite its flaws.   I did think about this film afterwards, as I was going to bed so maybe it was scary after all.  It effortlessly passes the Bechdel test, that was nice.  I got the feeling that Insidious: The Last Key, didn’t quite know where it was going and needed a bit more time in development.

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