Coming out in 2010 and solidifying the already growing status of Blumhouse Productions it is hard to believe but the original Insidious film was 8 years ago and since then it has spawned 3 sequels.
In actual fact there has only really been 1 sequel to Insidious the informatively titled Chapter 2 as the other 2 movies are prequels chronologically starting with the unhelpfully named Insidious: Chapter 3 and continuing with the most recent addition Insidious: The Last Key… still with me?
To add to all this overly complex series although every single film has been reviewed on Love Horror randomly they have all been written by a different contributor each with their own opinions and ideas on the franchise sadly meaning there is no one voice to give you a true perspective on Insidious past and present but as it’s now my turn I will do my best.
Although I have not seen Chapters 2 and 3, I did watch the first film and found it to be far more enjoyable and chilling than I had expected probably due to the excellent performances from Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.
Written by the scribe of Saw, Leigh Whannell, and filmed by the now huge horror director James Wan, the most interesting element for me was demonologists Elise Reiner played wonderfully by Lin Shaye who alongside her comedic assistantsTucker (Fargo’s Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell himself) form Spectral Sightings.
I always wanted to know more about this ghost busting trio and it seems so did everyone else as Insidious Chapter 3 and Insidious: The Last Key both supply large amounts of background in the run up to the eerie events involving the Lambert family detailed in the other films.
Interestingly The Last Key not only fills in the prequel gaps but jumps further back opening in 1953 in Five Keys New Mexico where we see Elise as a little girl living with her mother, brother and farther who is a prison executioner all residing in a ghost ridden house near the penitentiary.
Already imbued with her unsettling gifts to see and communicate with spirits Elise is feared by her brother and hated by her father who savagely beats her every time she says she sees a ghost locking her in the basement as further punishment. On one such night she is visited by a horrific deformed demon known as KeyFace who seeks her help unlocking doors in the phantom realm known as The Further.
Moving back to 2010 Elise wakes from her malicious memory filled nightmare only to be contacted by equally tormented Ted Garza (TV regular Kirk Acevedo) who sunk all his money into her childhood home and now needs help ridding it of the ghosts that inhabit every area of the dismal abode.
Fearful of what she will find returning to the house and her hometown Elise is nowhere near prepared for the supernatural and emotional onslaught that awaits her including the resurrection of KeyFace who has been waiting patiently for her to come back.
Directed by newcomer Adam Robitel and scripted by Whannell who has faithfully remained with the Insidious series throughout, even directing Chapter 3, although the set up seems familiar there are some fresh and engaging ideas in The Last Key that will hopefully hold viewers’ attention.
More importantly Elise’s backstory is well handled, truly displaying the burden of her gift and providing a satisfying origin to an excellent character that in many other horror movies is a simple psychic carnival caricature.
As mentioned the central performances from the Spectral Sightings team are great with the sensational Josh Stewart portraying Elise’s evil old man and Bruce Davison appearing as her brother all grown up and still full of fear and anger at his scarily super powered sister. Along with his daughters Imogen and Melissa (Caitlin Gerard and Spencer Locke from the Resident Evil sequels) their insertion throws a tragic and dramatic family element into the mix that gives some heart to the horror without becoming too mawkish.
With jump scares and some tense moments there is a sense of creeping dread throughout the movie just like in the first film and the effects are well done throughout. Fans of the Insidious series will most definitely be happy with this fourth addition although newcomers might be advised to start at the beginning… or is it the middle? Wait a minute I confused myself!