Insidious: The Last Key

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Adam Robitel Films
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Back to the puzzles in this teen-friendly Saw-alike

Matthew Monagle, July 23, 2021

Escape Room
Six actors in search of an exit

Matthew Monagle, Jan. 11, 2019

More by Marc Savlov
Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022

Technology and a lack of laughs get in the way of this rom-com

April 22, 2022


Insidious: The Last Key, Adam Robitel, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Javier Botet, Kirk Acevedo, Bruce Davison, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle