Rating:

INTO THE FURTHER ONCE MORE IN THIS FLASHBACK SEQUEL

Main Cast: Lin Shaye

Director: Adam Robitel

insidious the last key posterYou can tell INSIDIOUS is the accidental franchise by the order of the movies. To see them in chronological order you start with #3, then watch most recent, Insidious: The Last Key, then go back to #1 and #2. There’s no way that was on purpose, and I guarantee when Leigh Whannell was writing the first Insidious movie, he had no idea that a few years later he’d be writing a fourth.

But here we are anyway, and so far I’m still onboard.

Insidious: The Last Key picks up some time after the events of Insidious: Chapter 3. Specs and Tucker (Whannell and Angus Sampson respectively) are living with Elise in her house (Lin Shaye) and running their business, Spectral Sightings, when they get a call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo) asking for Elise’s help with a ghost. But when he gives her his address, Elise says she’s sorry, but she won’t be able to help him. Later, she explains to Specs and Tucker how the address is the house she grew up in, in Five Keys, New Mexico. It’s a house she hasn’t been in since she walked away in her teens.

Through a series of flashbacks, we see Elise’s early years, first as a child to an abusive father who rules the house with an iron fist. A guard at the nearby penitentiary, Elise’s father doesn’t believe in her gift and when she insists she’s seen a ghost, he locks her in the basement saying “If you want to sleep under my roof, you follow me rules. If not, you can sleep under my floor.”

And that’s when everything went to hell. Young Elise is contacted by an evil spirit who wants her to “open the door” and let it in. This leads to her mother’s death, followed by another few years of torment and suffering until, upon seeing another ghost in their house, and her father freaking out over Elise’s claims, she finally runs away, leaving behind a younger brother, Christian.

Cut to 2010, when this story takes place and Elise and company are trying to help Ted Garza with his ghost problem in the house where Elise first set them free. And that’s all the plot you get because there’s a twist concerning Garza and the main demonic force in the house, known as Keyface, that I can’t, in good conscience, spoil.

I don’t think this series gets enough credit, but for my money, Whannell is still doing a great job of expanding on the story he created in the first movie. Yes, we’ve left the Lamberts behind, but that’s ok because their story was done. Who would have thought the key to continuing this series was Lin Shay’s character, who dies at the end of the first movie (spoiler!)? But Whannell, with the Specs and Tucker characters, has created a full enough backstory for this team of ghost hunters, and given them enough personality, that I think they’re carrying this series just fine. Plus, he doesn’t insist on making them the real focus characters. At least he didn’t with part 3. Now, I will grant you that, this time around, Elise is absolutely the main character.

But in future installments, if there are any and I hope there are, the Spectral Sightings characters could go back to playing backup to a haunted main character who needs their help.

And with the other characters–Elise’s nieces–introduced in Insidious: The Last Key, who also share their aunt’s gift, the Spectral Sightings team could continue on even without Lin Shay’s appearance.

Now, a word about Keyface. First, his face is not a key, but his fingers are keys, and they lock and unlock things in the ghostly realm, or “the further”, that have consequences in the real world. For example, he pins Elise’s niece down, sticks one of his finger keys into her throat and “locks” it, locking her consciousness in the ghostly realm, requiring Elise to journey, once again, into the further, to try to find her.

Second, Keyface is probably the most under used and undeveloped evil ghost in Whannell’s entire Insidious-verse of stories, but I would love to know more about him. Unfortunately, this movie was already only about 2 minutes shy of 2 hours in length, so even if that backstory existed, there wasn’t much room for it anyway. The only reason I wish we’d had more on him, is because these Insidious movies do such a great job creating the wildest, most intimidating and creepy evil ghosts this side of Ring’s Samara. But for this one, that originality, while still here–I mean he has KEYS for fingers and he can shut off your screams by sticking his finger in your neck–just felt lacking in a horror movie villain, especially in a series where we’ve been getting some good ideas about the ghosts’ motivations.

But Keyface? Not a clue.

However, I’m not going to let a little thing like that keep from thoroughly enjoying the latest installment of one of my favorite horror franchises ever. Insidious: The Last Key isn’t a perfect horror movie, it’s not even as scary or unsettling as any of the previous installments, but it’s still got some pretty awesome visuals, a decent story, a GREAT twist, and I’m totally ready for the next movie.

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C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways anthologies. His novels are Revelations, and the Angel Hill stories, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, The Ghosts of Mertland and The Flip. He is writing another Angel Hill novel called Return to Angel Hill with co-author David Bain.