When it comes to horror films, January can sometimes feel like a dumping ground.
After last year’s “The Bye Bye Man” stumbled onto screens, becoming my pick for worst film of 2017, it’d be fair if audiences had any reservations before queuing up to see the latest “Insidious” film. However, feel free to dismiss your hesitations because, for the most part, “Insidious: The Last Key” is actually a fairly good movie.
With her newly formed team of ghost hunters, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye, “Ouija: Origin of Evil”) returns to her childhood home to face her tortured past and lay her demons to rest. However, what appears to be a simple, yet personal, exorcism turns out to be far more sinister and horrifying than she could have imagined.
The “Insidious” movies have always had one undeniable strength: the way they effortlessly blend supernatural horror with real world atrocities. Thankfully, “The Last Key” is no exception. The story is told in an intricate way, sporting flashbacks that patiently reveal glimpses into the dark reality that surrounds the characters. All the while, well-timed and surprisingly effective jump scares keeps the tension ramped up.
However, it’s the subtle scares that will most likely leave an impression. Barely noticeable movement in the background has always been a personal favorite thing for me in the horror genre, and this film is chock full of moments like this. I found myself questioning what I was seeing, since, at times, the movement is so subtle it’s easy to miss. For me, that’s the sign of a truly well-made horror movie. The ability to make its audience question what’s on screen.
Lin Shaye, as always, is the standout in the movie. While her lines are merely a series of tropes and clichés, her delivery is as passionate as ever. It’s clear that she loves doing these movies and the joy she resonates is impossible to not feel as well. Her character’s perseverance and positivity in the face of constant horrors is refreshing, as well as contagious. Every second she’s not on screen is a second wasted in the overall quality of the film.
Then the third act shows up and what was once an effectively unpredictable film turns into a standard, loud ghost affair that is frustratingly unsurprising. It’s a train wreck of mediocrity, but on by an inability to create a suspenseful and meaningful conclusion to a horrific series of events.
It’s a real shame “Insidious: The Last Key” ends the way it does. I was ready to sing its praises but it collapsed under the weight of its own buildup. As the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but suddenly not care about all of the elements I was once applauding. It’s annoying because this is the final impression audiences are given and it’s not a good one.
All and all, if you’re a fan of the “Insidious” franchise, “The Last Key” is a good addition that you will most likely enjoy, up until the end that is. If the series has never been your cup of tea, I’d recommend giving it a pass because of the disastrous and sudden deflation of excitement the film experiences. It’s a shame a better climax couldn’t be conjured up, because “The Last Key,” honestly, should have known better.