Plot: Elise (Lin Shaye) has always known she had some kind of special connection to the paranormal world, as she could see, hear, and even interact with the spirits that were all around her. But her father Gerald (Josh Stewart) didn’t appreciate when she would talk about spirits or ghosts, so he would berate her with hurtful words, then resort to brutal physical punishment. If he was so inclined, he would also use psychological torture on her, locking her in the dark basement and ignoring her pleas for help. Once she was a little older, she would leave and refuse to let him abuse her any longer, but when she left, her brother was still there, now alone. Many decades later, she still pursues her paranormal gifts and tries to help people with spirit related problems, but even she is shaken when she called to return to her childhood home. The spirits there have risen once more and tormented the man who now lives there, so Elise and her ghost hunter pals head to finish off whatever lurks there. But can even Elise handle the onslaught of both the spirits and her tortured memories?
Entertainment Value: This is the fourth installment of the Insidious series and this time, the franchise aims for a kinder, gentler kind of horror movie. This is a Blumhouse movie and it is business as usual for the production house, aiming the movie at tweens, no real scares, no bloodshed, and a reliance on cheap, far too frequent jump scares, but there’s some fresh elements here as well. The Last Key wants to drop the horror vibe and go for a tender, feel good kind of approach, especially as the movie rounds the corner into the final act. I am sure some will like this warmer tactic, but I found it to be out of place and more the result of Leigh Whannell being out of ideas, so he just went for the lame duck finish. While The Last Key isn’t scary and does little to even try beyond the jump scares and sudden, loud audio cues, it does have a terrific sound design and a capable lead in Lin Shaye. She puts a lot into the role and turns in an effective performance, easily the highlight of the movie. I wish I could say the same for the comic relief of her two helpers, but the humor is lifeless and depressing to watch. I liked The Last Key more than I expected, mostly thanks to Shaye’s performance, but it is still just more of the usual Blumhouse, overly tame, assembly line horror.
No nakedness. The tiniest bit of CGI blood is visible in a couple scenes, but honestly not enough to score a point. I don’t think horror needs sleaze or blood to be effective, but I am baffled as to why Blumhouse is so dead set on tame, sanitized horror that feels fresh off the cookie cutter press. I know the tween market is profitable, but they don’t all need to be this wiped clean of traces of horror. I did like the key demon, but it is used as filler and not put to good use in most scenes. In terms of dialogue, the writing is passable, but forgettable. Shaye’s turn here is quite good, but she shines because she makes the most of the mediocre material she’s given. The dramatic elements are stale and rehashed, but still better than the groan inducing attempts at humor. I think the movie would have much better if the ghost hunter assistants were silent or even absent. I know it connects the movies, but still, enough is enough. No craziness. I would have loved some wild twists or unexpected moments, but this is Blumhouse, so it is all follow the blueprint and stay on the beaten path.
Overall Insanity: 0/10