That’s right, gang. The film you’ve ALL been waiting for. The long awaited follow-up to Insidious 3: Scary Mask Dude has finally arrived, and it just so happens to be the very first film of 2018. Is it a sign of things to come?
I have some things to clarify first. I saw Insidious in theaters instead of going to my senior prom. Make whatever assumptions that you want from that, but I think I laughed a lot more in the theater than if I were at the dance. Oh, you mean I wasn’t supposed to laugh?
I thought that Insidious had some okay things about it, but I really didn’t like it overall. I thought the demon was a silly mix of Darth Maul and a goat (who also played a church organ, if I recall?) that did not work, and none of the scares were effective. Despite people selling the sequels, I avoided the second and third films like the plague I believed them to be. I wouldn’t have seen the fourth film either, but I’m a dumb person who thought reviewing as many new films as possible was a good idea.
So here we are. Insidious 4: Uh Oh Spooky Keys, or as it’s known in some markets, Insidious: The Last Key. I don’t like that title as much.
This film begins with Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) as a very young child and tells the story of her early interactions with demons and ghosts and whatnot. Her father (Josh Stewart) is a very angry man who reacts negatively to her discussion of spirits, but her mother (Tessa Ferrer) is supportive and understanding. I’m not sure I need to spoil things too much, but things don’t go well there. After several years of abuse, Elise runs away from home, abandoning her younger brother with the abusive father.
We jump back to the “present”, which is before Insidious but after Insidious: Chapter 3. Elise and her sidekicks, Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), receive a phone call from a man being tormented by ghosts. He lives in Elise’s childhood home, which causes her to resist his cry for help initially. While beginning the investigation, Elise runs into her estranged brother Christian (Bruce Davison) and his two daughters (Spencer Locke and Caitlin Gerard).
If you are the kind of person to be very interested in the plot details of an Insidious film, you wouldn’t want them spoiled. If you aren’t interested, you don’t really care and they don’t matter that much, so I won’t worry about them. It should be noted that almost half of what is featured in the trailer is NOT in the film that I saw.
The absolute best thing about the film is Lin Shaye, and that’s no secret. She has been widely regarded as the best thing about the entire franchise since it began in 2010, and she manages to make this totally silly film sound like it isn’t utter nonsense, which is quite the feat in itself.
I find Leigh Whannell to be a very charming performer, but there is entirely too much leaning on Tucker and Specs for comedic relief, and much of it is ill-timed and poorly thought out. There’s an entire subplot about these two buffoons trying to flirt with Elise’s newly discovered nieces. While the two actresses are in their mid-to-late 20’s, they sure don’t seem to be coded that way in the film, and all of it reads real disgusting in a way the film refuses to acknowledge.
I’ve got another issues involving these two actresses. In their very first scene, one of them does essentially all of the talking while the other sulks in the background, leading me to believe she will be the important one. Then, shortly after, she is removed from the film for the next half hour or so, leaving the less charismatic of the two to attempt to carry the final act. Also, this film is two full hours long, which is totally unnecessary.
When the big bad (who is credited as Key Face, which is a bad name) is shown only in pieces, I found it to be pretty effective. The hand with sickly long fingers that end in keys was a fascinating concept. However, as soon as the full visage of Key Face is revealed, all of the horror is removed because the monster looks real silly. Not quite Darth Goat Maul silly, but still VERY silly.
I wanted to hate this movie. I really wanted Insidious 4: Uh Oh Spooky Keys to be so profoundly dumb that I could tear it apart to kick off the new year. Unfortunately, it isn’t THAT bad, but it sure isn’t good. A handful of neat concepts can’t overcome a disappointing villain. There isn’t a single capable scare in the entire film, and you don’t get points for surprising me with obscenely loud sound effects while a blurry figure runs out of frame while someone looks the other direction. In a world where we can get modern horror masterpieces like It Follows and Get Out, I will always ask more of my horror films. Insidious 4 (which I believe might be the end of the franchise) does not answer.
That said, I don’t think I’ve seen a single 2018 film that is better than this.
Insidious: The Last Key– 4/10