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INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (2021)
To catch everyone up on my status with the Insidious series, I have seen the original film when it first came to video all those years ago and that’s about it. I wasn’t incredibly impressed with it but thought it was an overall decent film. So when a sequel reared its head around the corner and entered nearby theaters, I did the reasonable thing and waited for video. However, when it actually released, I forgot about it entirely. That was until the third film hit, which I meant to actually see in theaters, but once again forgot all about. So when I heard that the fourth Insidious film, originally titled Insidious: Chapter Four was a thing, I decided to jump right back in with hardly any knowledge of the lore of the Insidious franchise. Now that you are as caught up as you could be, I will continue…
While the direction may not be one of the most stunning moments of horror filmmaking, Adam Robitel succeeded in some aspects of the film - most notably the sound design. Set primarily within a haunted house, Robitel delivers a very standard and could have been made more remarkable. For assistance on this concept about how the setting could have been better, reference Crimson Peak or Woman in Black, both of which were brilliantly crafted films with equally brilliant haunted houses.
Insidious: The Last Key is a little convoluted, a little nonsensical, and hardly ever scary. However, that last point is a bit of an objective thing because, well, anyone in their right mind can decide to be scared at any moment in time. So with that in mind, I personally didn’t get frightened very often at all, and that’s not a great thing considering I’m honestly kind of a wimp.
The real pain that comes from this teleplay lookalike that turned itself into an extended episode for the big screen is the writing. You may be thinking, “wait- who are you to criticize someone else’s writing when you can’t even write a professional review with proper grammar?” Well yes,I understand your concerns. They have been addressed, so now let’s move forward.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Lin Shaye returns to the role of Elise Rainier for the fourth time, along with her trusted sidekicks. As one of them likes to point out, “she’s psychic, we’re sidekick.” With hardly any frame of reference from the previous movies, I will speak how I truly feel regarding the acting in this particular film in the series; it all comes off extraordinarily corny. This is especially true concerning her sidekicks played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell, the screenwriter. They are comically off putting, which does the film’s reputation no justice whatsoever. Any other side character that climbed into the picture at the halfway mark to the finish line, just did not have enough time to truly flourish as their characters, so when ghosts appear they were obviously easily disposable. Insidious: The Last Key suffers majorly in this category as absolutely none of the characters are interesting, and it appears as if the actors aren’t exactly sure what to do with the written material, which is even more disconcerting, considering that one of the main actors is the screenwriter himself.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
As stated earlier on, the haunted house is at least mildly effective, but not to its fullest potential. Beyond the big bad monster, Insidious: The Last Key seems to stray away from using CGI, and instead uses practical effects, which is a refreshing change in this day and age. However, the moments with the big bad monster that utilized the CGI are a little here and there on the spectrum. At first glance the idea is horrifying, yet after a few more of those glances, the CGI starts to sink in and the fear slowly dissolves. The worst case of poorly utilized CGI can be seen near the film’s conclusion, which seems to go all out on making those clear "callbacks” get rushed into action. In general, callbacks are great, but only if they’re not ruining a crucial plotpoint later in the film. Unfortunately, Insidious: The Last Key doesn’t catch on to how this method is done properly; which construes an end product that is both sleazy and cheap.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
This success is in regards to the wonderful sound editing for most of the film, which went beyond the usual jump-scare startling score at a moments notice. This also expanded on the atmosphere, along with the situation at hand. However, there are a few moments of score for those lackluster jump-scares.
As a horror film, Insidious: The Last Key is in many ways a failure. The film provides little to no genuine scares, and conjures more lackluster tension than intended. This is particularly unfortunate because the overall direction and sound design have such significant potential from start to finish. Being the fourth installment in a successful franchise is a difficult task, as it has to both live up to its predecessors and somehow appear relevant and still interesting. Insidious: The Last Key fails to live up to the original, and proves that maybe this series is dead in the water. Perhaps it’s time Elise rested in peace.