The Popcorn Periodical
“Insidious: The Last Key” unlocks a series of painstaking suspense and a newly crowned Scream Queen
It’s been 7 years since the first chapter of Insidious crept up and spooked its way into the supernatural/horror genre. Many remember the infamous Red-Faced Demon (or virally known as the Lipstick-Faced Demon), just from the trailer: a haunted entity whose sinister esthetic was directly compared to Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’s villain, Darth Maul. In 2011, the Red-Faced Demon became synonymous with Insidious, and the movie peaked at number three on opening weekend at the box office.
The surprise success of the original prompted a sequel, Insidious: Chapter Two, and the second film was released in September 2013, earning a smoothe $50+ million. It shot to the number one spot at the box office on opening weekend – and as it goes with scary movies – another sequel spawned. This time, a prequel to the first film; Insidious: Chapter Three, released in the summer of 2015. By the end of the third movie, it was evident that the franchise had run out of gas, but all three movies had an ironically insidious way of mixing the headstrong clairvoyant, Elise Rainier (Lyn Shaye, There’s Something About Mary, Ouija), into each plot line. Elise faced malevolence head-on; continuously saving the undeservingly haunted. She helped the families that asked for it. And they desperately asked for it.
Elise had a gift, and now, in 2018’s Insidious: The Last Key, we are told her story. We learn where she comes from and why she chooses to help those affected by “the further,” as she calls it, and bloody hell is it ever ghoulish!
The Last Key is directed by Adam Robitel, a novice director/actor/producer, who’s directed a handful of movies including 2014’s The Taking of Deborah Logan, and the upcoming 2018 film, The Maze starring Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood). Robitel’s acting experience connects him to the actor who plays Elise’s younger brother in this film, Christian Rainier (Bruce Davison), who plays Senator Kelly in 2000’s X-Men (a movie Adam Robitel was an extra in). Are you following? Because as seen in The Last Key, there are a six degrees of separation, both in life and death.
Fan favourite James Wan (director of Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious Chapters 1 & 2, Furious Seven, and 2018’s Aquaman) is the executive producer of this grotesque tale, but it is written by (and starring) Leigh Whannell – the talented writer who penned all of the characters and scripts of the first three Insidious films. Whannell writes himself into The Last Key as Specs yet again, this time he and his business partner Tucker (Angus Sampson) act as Elise Rainier’s quirky and often pervy assistants. They run a type of Ghostbusters out of their van and help Elise connect to “the further.” Whannell has played other small roles in horror films like The Bye Bye Man and Saw I, II, and III, but a big role he managed is executive producer of the Saw II – VI movies. Whannell’s experience in the horror genre spans over fifteen years, and with a track record of horror sequels rivalling even the most beloved of franchises, I doubt we’ve seen the last of him.
It’s an unfortunate setback for the Insidious universe to have critics give it terrible first reviews. On opening weekend it is sitting with a 25% on rotten tomatoes from critics, 65% from fans. In comparison to the other films, The Last Key delivers exactly what it did the first three times, if not more. It is only in this fourth installment that the loose ends are tied and the focus delves deeper into Elise’s backstory. Her knowledge of “the further” is laid out and we come to understand her character like never before. Of course, she grew up in a haunted house too, and the coming-of-age story that unfolds is dark and macabre, but it is finally with the reveal of Elise’s trials and triumphs that fans get the most intriguing of all the Insidious films since the first.
The plot and character development can seem sporadic if you haven’t seen the previous films but every B horror film (and the sequels to follow) has an unsung method that grips horror genre fans – Insidious blows a whistle to that tune. Mind you, the acting is mediocre and the scares are prolonged cheap shots, but the chills and plot twists are unexpected and we see actress Lyn Shaye as Elise Rainier stand her ground against her father, against the demons, and against movie critics! “You can starve, mother f*cker!”
Disturbing, strange and pedestrian, Insidious: The Last Key is a hokey horror movie that bombed with critics but has the potential to stand strong at the box office. It speaks to the Scream fans of the 90’s and The Conjuring fans of today, bringing a flatlining horror genre to a full-on comeback. The Last Key’s efforts may not compare (on any level) to last year’s early horror release, Get Out, but with the steady list of other major horror films coming out of 2017 (IT, Happy Death Day, Annabelle: Creation, A Ghost Story, and mother!), the return of horror is here! In 2018, Elise Rainer/Lyn Shaye’s crowning glory is becoming the Scream Queen of Insidious!
“FEAR COMES HOME!”
Insidious: The Last Key is playing in select theatres only.
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.