“Insidious: The Last Key”: less than expected

William Sikich

In terms of horror movies, nothing brings about more immediate disappointment to a viewer than a lame or predictable jump scare. As a result, when a director decides to rely on such scares to keep the audience engaged in a film, that director will inevitably produce a thoroughly disappointing experience. On January 5th of this year, that director was Adam Robitel, and that movie was Insidious: The Last Key.
The Last Key is the latest installment of the Insidious film saga, a series of horror films that made a name for itself in 2010 with the release of the original Insidious movie. The series follows the work of the parapsychologist, Dr. Elise Rainier, as she helps desperate people rid their homes and children of the supernatural menaces that wish to harm them. In The Last Key, Elise is forced to return to her childhood home and confront the demons of her own past in order to help a client, and her battle against the world of ghosts and ghouls begins anew.
Unfortunately, much of this particular battle consists of lengthy, silent, house-searching scenes, during which the characters of the film meticulously inspect the same few rooms on repeat at unreasonably slow speeds. To make matters worse, the entire purpose of these scenes appears to be simply to set up numerous instances of fake people jumping out at real people, much in the style of a haunted house you might visit on Halloween.
As a fan of the series up until now, I was saddened to see the Insidious name precede a film largely characterized by its many unnecessary and predictable jump scares. I enjoyed the original film for its genuinely scary demons and environments, but these elements are almost entirely absent from The Last Key. That’s not to say, of course, that nothing about the movie was creepy, it definitely had a couple of notable, nail biting moments. The issue I take with the film is that any parts that truly were terrifying were not given nearly enough screen time. I would have really loved to see a bit less special effects-saturated room-wandering and a little more of the actual horror I love about the series—even if that would mean bringing back the bizarre, puppet-making, Tiny Tim-loving demon from the first film.
Certainly, loud noises and quick reveals of the bad guy’s location are a staple of the horror genre, but these must be used in conjunction with skillful storytelling and well-executed cinematography in order to produce a truly memorable movie-watching experience.