Insidious: The Last Key
2018, PG-13, 103 min. Directed by Adam Robitel. Starring Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Javier Botet, Kirk Acevedo, Bruce Davison, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 12, 2018
The mystery at the heart of this demon possession franchise isn’t so much that this is the third film building on James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s 2011 surprise hit stinker. The original made a downright Luciferian amount of money, and that always guarantees sequelitis ad nauseam. No, the genuine enigma facing the moviegoing public – not to mention genre fans such as yours truly – is that the Insidious movies are getting better with each installment, much like series stalwart Lin Shaye. That’s not to say that this newest bit of Blumhouse cinematic deviltry is a masterful, or even borderline competent, shock show. It is, however, by turns entertaining, incomprehensible, goofy, and even on occasion unnerving.
Shaye returns as parapsychologist Elise Rainier, aided and abetted by her comic-relief aides-de-campy Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson), but since the character was killed off in the first film, The Last Key time-hops from young Elise’s (Kolker) spooky childhood growing up beside a penitentiary death house in 1950s New Mexico to 2010 (the latter being directly prior to the events in Insidious). Her new psychic rescue mission involves both her own soul and possibly that of one Ted Garza (Acevedo), the new owner of her disquieting former home. Also in the mix of madness are Elise’s sibling (Davison), his two daughters (Gerard, Locke), and the usual complement of stiletto-fingered demons, eyeless yawning specters, and oh so many jump scares.
Director Robitel bumps up against many of the series’ previous plot contrivances, but he does manage some of the franchise’s eeriest moments (I’ll say no more). He also slows the pace down a tad, lighting some slow-burn suspense sequences that go on longer than most before the inevitable "gotchas." Shaye is in top form here, working with a character both she and the audience know inside and out by this point, yet never lapsing into cliches or tropes other than those necessitated by the boo! scary! storyline.
A brief note to Insidious virgins: Whannell’s script is a sequel to Insidious: Chapter 3, which was a prequel to Insidious: Chapter 2, which may result in side effects including but not limited to: déjà vu, jamais vu, brain slough, obverse Stendhal syndrome, flinching followed by comedic hysterical laughter, and an unmanageable hankering to revisit a better possession movie like Séance on a Wet Afternoon. You have been warned.