It’s safe to say that the Insidious franchise has officially fallen victim to the law of diminishing returns. What started out as a high brow horror concept in a first installment that starred Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey in scene-stealing performances, has been reduced to a shadow of its former self in this dreary, lifeless mess; a movie as ineffective as the numerous jump scares it employs.

Following in the now established Hollywood staple of doing a prequel once the creative well starts running dry, Insidious: The Last Key takes us back before the events of the first movie in the franchise. Here, Elise Reiner, played once again by Lin Shaye is confronted with a demonic presence from her past; a presence that has haunted her from her childhood home. 

Admittedly, there exists the makings of a compelling story in this screenplay penned by Leigh Whannell and directed by Adam Robitel in his directorial debut. The movie attempts to bring everything full circle and connect the events of this prequel installment to the events of the first movie, while expanding on the mythology created in the franchise and paying homage to what came before it. Unfortunately, the story gets bogged down by cheap jump scares and oftentimes atrocious acting that destroys any pleasure that could have been derived for even the most forgiving of horrorphiles.

Supported by writer and once franchise-installment Director; Leigh Whannell, and Angus Sampson who both play the characters; Specs and Tucker respectively, Elise Reiner has to uncover the mystery behind another haunting and save lives that hang in the balance. Lin Shaye carries the whole movie on her shoulders and does it decently well. Her acting abilities have never been noteworthy but serviceable enough to feel like she belongs in the world created on screen. Whannell and Sampson attempt to embody the comic relief here which fell flat every single time as the jokes have a jarring quality to them when compared with the tone of the whole movie.

The cinematography here by Toby Oliver is in many frames; rigid, forcing a scenery perspective on the viewer that is both uninspired and listless. Where the camera work attempts to subvert audience expectation, it feels unintentionally funny; like drawing attention to a “mystery box” even though the audience already knows what is in it. These moments of subversion are as lethargic as the actual scares if not even more so, which is without a doubt, the biggest tragedy in this movie. The scares in this movie, like the demons featured, are not just uninventive but ineffective.

Thankfully, Insidious: The Last Key is not without its moments of ingenuity and this is evident in its lean script and surprising twist. It definitely had a lot to live up to and though it does not hold a candle to the installments that came before it, it stills serves as hopefully, a serviceable completion to the Insidious franchise. We can only hope that Insidious: The Last Key will actually end up being the last in the franchise and there will be no more prequels or God forbid, spinoffs. But who are we kidding? If this installment makes enough money, we’ll definitely be treated to another one. Here’s hoping we won’t have to sit through Insidious: The Final (Chapter?) a year from now: 

Score: 5/10

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