Horror movies, I’ve reviewed plenty of them and the genre is perhaps one of the most troubled in this modern age of film making. Somehow though, these films manage to persevere and keep the box office happy with their mundane plots and scare tactics. And the start of this year opens with a fourth installment of a series that continues to shine in the darkness of this series. I’m reviewing Insidious 4: The Last Key tonight, an installment that hopes to pump life into this series, and perhaps answering the questions the last film left open. What’s in store? As always, read on to find out.
Characters: One thing that keeps me invested in the series is the development of the characters that continue to fight crime. The Last Key keeps this trend going, using this bridging prequel to further expand on the Spectral Sighters. Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) still are primarily comedic relief, but have a little evolution into the romantic side of their lives. Elise (Lin Shaye) however takes a shining role in this movie, expanding on her simplistic role as detective and further unraveling the web of spiritual darkness that she lies in. Her origins, her ability, and even her guilt are all revealed as Insidious 4 finally works more from the story angle than the scare angle.
The Story: I always enjoy when there is a point to all the madness and Insidious continues to accomplish this goal. Although another prequel, I enjoyed the movies telling of the past and present. While predictable at times, the movie has a few nice tweaks to up the ante including some linkage of the characters, an emotional obstacle for our heroes to come across, and of course a little sleuthing to figure out what gimmick the demon is trying to accomplish. By expanding on the story, Insidious 4 continues the trend of keeping you coming back, by leaving just enough unanswered questions to keep you intrigued into the series.
The Creep Factor: Is the movie the scariest movie of the bunch? The answer to this is no, but The Last Key manages to still cast that shadow of creeps and chills to get your hair standing on the edge of your arms. The secret starts with their ability to utilize shadows so well, utilizing fleeting images, masked figures, and those sudden bumps in the dark that will make you fret what lurks in the shadows. Taking all these tactics and managing to tie it back to the story keeps things chilling as they forego radical tangents that horror can be famous for. And of course, the revelation of the monster is the piece de resistance of the scares in this movie. One scene in particular chilled my bones, mostly in the inhumane movements of one not bound by the laws of living physics. This monster might have the freakiest habits of the bunch, and will certainly get your skin crawling without much effort.
The Dropped plot points: Despite the good story, there were a few things lacking in the plot that they left out. Some of the new characters are cut a little short for my tastes hastily thrown in or quickly drop their secrets without much build-up. Even the girl we saw in the trailers who gets the key in her throat doesn’t have much expansion than that scene, reduced to some looks, screams and a few quality seizure roles that could have been developed more. In addition, some of the origin moments needed a little more edge/time focused on them to really bring Elise’s horrors to the forefront more. Again, the emotional aspect is there… to the extent, but Last Key is missing that complete feeling that like my tales to have.
Anticlimactic Ending: The last three Insidious movies have that final rush to get the juices pumping and the intensity as raised as possible. Last Key failed on that level this time for me. The follow the leader into the Further has been done, and once they arrive at their destination, tehe situation is wrapped up rather quickly, leaving me a little disappointed given how on the edge the last three films have. Oh well, guess you can’t make the movie perfect, but there could have been a little more struggle I facing the final challenges that await.
The Missing Trailer scenes: Last Key plays victim to another editing scandal, dropping a few key scenes that had hooked me into the movie months ago. Don’t be surprised if you find some expectations dashed, lost to the editing room and written with a less intriguing plot device. Some of these missing sequences are scares, and others could have been key story devices that succeeded in forming a more complete story. Sorry Hollywood, you fail on this again!
Last Key is certainly a charming horror genre for a fourth installment. It’s highlights are the characters and their story, culminating into a decent tale that is engaging as it solves some looming questions you might have. However, the tale meets some challenges in this installment including dropped plot points and an anticlimactic ending that stirred a lot of sighs in my showing. Fortunately the creep factor remains just as strong, but sadly there is too much missing still from this movie to call it the greatest movie to storm the horror beaches. Worth a trip to the theater? Eh, I can go anyway, but otherwise check out this one at home when it’s released from the Red Tape” of the VA.
Movie Overall: 6.0