“What have you become, my dearest franchise?”
Forgive for that hyperbolic play on Nine Inch Nails lyrics, but I do feel that way to a degree. When James Wan’s Insidious arrive in 2010, I fell head over heels for it. To this day, it remains my favorite film of his and also one of the best horror movies of the 2010s. Its wacky 2013 sequel was a welcome expansion of its strange mythos, but the franchise has been fading ever since.
After the stumbling mediocrity of the third film, I had hoped that Insidious: The Last Key might be a return to form for the series. After all, we had a new and very capable director, in the form of Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan), picking up the reins. I’d hoped that a new creative being added into the mix might liven things up again and break the franchise out of the prequelitis funk it was slipping into. Much to my dismay, things have only gotten worse.
Despite having a respectable cast and a more personal storyline for its leads, The Last Key feels like a film on autopilot. Something made to merely connect the dots from prequel Chapter 3 to the original 2010 film. Even series lead Lin Shaye feels lost here; wandering from scene to seen in a haze trying to find a stronger emotional core within the supremely surface-level script that she has been handed. Add in more needless callforwards to the events of the first two films and you have as bland a recipe as possible.
The writing is uninspired. The direction is uninspired. The editing is super choppy, leaving the film feeling like it was hacked to bits in the editing room. The cool and twisted looking demon villain is poorly utilized, loosing any and all visual power by the time the finale rolls around. Even the score feels uninspired, which almost makes me want to cry.
I want this series to do better, especially since this one is doing well enough for a fifth to be made. I truly hope that the next one can not only move beyond giving us another lazy prequel, but also revitalize this once exciting horror saga. Audiences deserve better. The fans deserve better. The poor Lipstick-Face Demon deserves better. Lin Shaye and the rest of the cast sure as hell deserve better.
Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth film in the Insidious franchise. It was directed by Adam Robitel, from a screenplay by Leigh Whannell. The film was produced by James Wan, Leigh Whannell, Oren Peli, and Jason Blum. It stars Lin Shaye, Spencer Locke, Caitlin Gerard, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Bruce Davison, Kirk Acevedo, Josh Stewart, and Javier Botet.