Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

*. No, the title is not promising (however insincerely) that this will be the last Insidious film. The Last Key is not The Final Chapter or The Final Nightmare. It just refers to the fact that the demon KeyFace (so called despite the fact that it’s his fingers that are keys) keeps souls locked up in some kind of extra-dimensional prison house. I’m not exactly sure what the “last” key refers to, but it doesn’t mean this franchise will be ending any time soon.
*. When discussing the previous Insidious movies I think I’ve been generous if unenthusiastic. I thought they were pretty basic ghost stories, decently staged. I did say in my notes on Chapter 3 however that I thought the concept played out. Which it was. But they’re back doing all the same stuff again here.
*. Doing the same stuff, and telling the same damn story. How many times do we have to go into the Further (a really uninteresting spirit realm) to rescue some lost soul? I’m starting to think Leigh Whannell doesn’t have a whole lot of arrows for his bow. Even the family psychodramas are becoming repetitive, with the same business about being reunited with the mother coming at the end of this movie as it had in the previous one.
*. But while I still liked the earlier movies well enough I have to say I didn’t care for this one at all. It is, naturally, more of the same. But right from the start, with the back story involving Elise’s history of being an abused child, I wasn’t enjoying it. Then the main story becomes too amorphous, leaking out in several different directions but never going anywhere.
*. As with the villain in Chapter 3, I had no idea what the demon here was up to. His mouth is a bit like the breathing mask used by The Man Who Can’t Breathe, but otherwise I just thought he looked like the skinny fellow (playing a woman) at the end of Rec. I was not surprised to find that he was played by the same actor, Javier Botet. He’s become a go-to guy for horror roles today, also showing up in The Conjuring 2 and It, for example. I guess there’s something in his look that triggers people. I loved him in Rec, but to be honest he’s now become so easily identifiable that he takes away from the creepiness of the films he’s in.
*. But leaving his appearance aside, what’s his game? Just being the warden at a prison for souls? Feasting on their fear? Revenge? Was he human in a previous life? In one of the featurettes included with the DVD executive producer Bailey Conway Anglewicz tells us that he was a very old prisoner who was wronged so he now haunts the property. In the same featurette Whannell says he represents the trauma Elise suffered as a girl. I can’t remember there being any explanation in the movie, but I’ll admit I may not have been paying attention. In any event, I found I didn’t care.
*. It’s fun thinking back to what Leigh Whannell said about the first Insidious movie, and how he didn’t want to do any jump scares. What he meant was fake jump scares (like a cat jumping out of the closet instead of a ghost). Over the course of the series, however, this is a comment that has become even more divorced from reality. Yes, the jump scares usually are provided by actual ghosts, but the Insidious movies are all about the jump scares. And I mean all about the jump scares. That’s basically their whole reason for being.
*. So Tucker and Specs are back, and it looks like Elise’s replacement is on deck in the form of her niece Imogen. That part of the movie is harmless. What really damns The Last Key for me is how I found myself just shaking my head at how stupid the ending was, and then laughing at it. They really do need to break out of this formula going forward. Or not, given that this was actually the highest grossing film of the franchise thus far. I guess they might as well keep doing what they’re doing, but I think I’ve had enough.

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