I headed into Insidious: The Last Key fully aware that this movie will not be giving me a hard-on. I generally just do not give a rat’s ass about ‘conventional,’ mainstream horror movies — i.e your typical ghost possessing/disturbing people in a house. They’re just so f**king boring. Unless of course, they’re helmed by an inventive horror auteur like James Wan, whose Conjuring movies I really enjoyed.
But even James Wan’s wizardry couldn’t get me invested in the Insidious franchise. I checked out the first two movies, helmed by Wan himself, and found it to be largely forgettable experiences, despite its interesting concept. And I completely missed the third one, helmed by Leigh Whannell, due to a terrible case of diarrhea. Praise the lord!
“The third movie is not directed by James Wan??!!”
No, it’s not.
“What? But this fourth movie is, right?!”
“But… but… the trailer said…”
Don’t worry, buddy. You’re not alone. I asked a bunch of my friends and most of them were under the impression that James Wan is director of Insidious: The Last Key. Well, you’ve been conned by some very smart marketing. Look at the trailer carefully. It doesn’t say, “Directed by James Wan,” or “A James Wan Film.” Instead, it reads, “From producer James Wan,” *fade to black* “The Director of Conjuring & Conjuring 2,” which translates to: , the director of Conjuring & Conjuring 2, James Wan, is producing this film.
Technically, the studio isn’t lying to you, but they know that by wording it that way, you’re most likely going to assume that James Wan is directing this movie. In other words:
The truth is, James Wan has said that he’s finished with the horror genre, at least from a directorial standpoint.
That being said, despite the lack of a certain horror movie maestro behind the camera, Insidious: The Last Key is a pleasant surprise. Who would’ve thought? This time around, Leigh Whannell, who wrote all the scripts for this franchise and directed the third movie, steps away from the director’s chair and goes back to doing what he does best and Adam Robitel (no clue) steps up to the captain the ship.
Robitel and Whannell deserve credit for trying to craft an interesting story. While the previous Insidious films have Lin Shayne’s Elise in a supporting role — she’s the psychic ghostbuster who helps the families that are haunted — here, she’s the central figure. This is HER story.
We explore Elise’s childhood and the trauma she underwent at the hands of her abusive dad, who bruises her back with a prison cane. These scenes are well directed and extremely painful to watch, made better by Josh Stewart’s adequate work as the monstrous dad. The harrowing abuse is taken to another level when she tells her dad about her sixth sense. Only, unlike in “Harry Potter”, Elise’s mom unequivocal love for her does not protect her, not immediately anyway.
It is during these flashback moments that the movie is most riveting. The flashbacks make Elise a much more interesting, three-dimensional figure, a rarity in ‘conventional’ horror. It gives us a reason to get behind her. Lun Shayne has always been decent in these Insidious movies, but here, she takes it a step further. Her performance is nothing to scream about, but it is believable.
Strangely, “The Last Key” has a lot of heart and humour, courtesy of Angus Sampson and the man himself, Leigh Whannell, both who play awkward sidekicks to the psychic. Whannell, Sampson, and Shyne have just enough chemistry to sell the purposefully awkward humour. I found myself cracking up quite a bit during this movie.
What’s even more peculiar, is the lack of jumpscares and false jumpscares. Holy shit! Adam Robitel knows what’s up. Robitel uses jumpscares sparingly and more importantly, appropriately. Here’s a horror director who’s confident in his ability to tell a story without needing to hoodwink the audience with annoying loud music and meaningless jump scares that do nothing but prevent you from falling asleep.
Y’know what? That’s probably why a bazillion jump scares per minute is a commonality in conventional horror flicks. The directors know their movie is boring hot garbage and audiences are most likely going to fall asleep after the first 43 seconds of the film. So they spam their movie with the ridiculously loud, cliche horror music you can download off of YouTube and go BOOM BOOM BOOM until we get a bloody headache that restricts us from falling asleep.
I had a decent enough time with Insidious: The Last Key, which is a rarity for me at horror flicks — most of the time I feel like running up to the screen and tearing it to pieces. But here, Adam Robitel has found a tone that works, added depth to a character we were already familiar with, and given us some very fun set pieces. This isn’t a great horror movie by any means. It isn’t “The Witch” or “It Follows”. But considering January is known as the dumping ground for stinky shit shows, “The Last Key” is noticeably odourless.
Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Like my article? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to share it with your buds.
Insidious: The Last Key
This isn't a great horror movie by any means, but considering January is known as the dumping ground for stinky shit shows, The Last Key is noticeably odourless.