When the trailer for Insidious: chapter 4 first dropped, I was less than pleased with the preview. I felt that they showed too much, and it’s never a good sign when a movie has a release date in January. Despite my premature analysis and lack of excitement for the film, being the horror fan that I am, I obviously was going to see it anyway. It turns out, I was never so delighted to be completely and utterly wrong. I should know by now, that anything that has James Wan’s name on it is usually gold.
This fourth installment in the series is Directed by Adam Robitel and stars the beloved Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier, whom I really never get tired of seeing in these fright flicks. Elise is once again joined by her two sidekicks, Specs and Tucker, played by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson. In a turn of events, Elise’s Paranormal Investigator status leads her straight to a case that takes place in the very home she grew up in. Reluctant to take the case at first, she finally decides to set her fears aside and return to the house she was hoping to never step foot in again.
No time was wasted when it came to jump scares, as you received your first fright right in the beginning when you’re taken back to Elise’s childhood horror house. You finally have an understanding of how it all began, when you learn that her family home is adjacent to a prison where her father, Gerald works as an executioner. Not only is Elise’s house effected by the jolts of the electric chair, but Elise herself is impacted by the deaths of the prisoners that are executed by it. Gerald, who has zero tolerance for her “childish games” becomes enraged one night, when Elise has another encounter that frightens her and her bother, Christian. Gerald proceeds to beat Elise before locking her in the basement, where she unintentionally sets free a malevolent entity.
I agree that it was about time that we were given Elise’s backstory, considering the fact that she is such an essential part of the Insidious franchise even though she actually died in the first one. (I know, crazy! right?) If you are confused by this, here’s a short breakdown of the chronological order: 1.Insidious: Chapter 3, 2.Insidious: The Last Key, 3. Insidious, 4.Insidious: Chapter 2. I do believe, however, that if they decide to make another installment, that the torch will most likely be passed on to Elise’s niece, Imogen, whom we meet in the film, along with her sister, Melissa. Imogen reveals to Elise that she, too, has abilities much like Elise’s, and becomes an important part of the rest of the story when she has to delve into The Further later in the film.
Before The Further even comes into play in the movie, viewers actually get a nice little twist when Elise hesitantly returns to her childhood home to help out a distressed Ted Garza, who is experiencing paranormal activity since moving in. While in her old bedroom, Elise finds the whistle that her mother gave to Christian when he was a child to help him with his fears. Later on that evening, a ghost of a familiar woman appears and steals the whistle from Elise only to use it the following night to help lead Elise and her team to a shocking discovery down in the basement. I really loved that unexpected curve ball they threw at you that tied everything in the movie together so perfectly.
The two most memorably creepy scenes in the film were when Elise was getting questioned at the police station, and the “suitcase” scene. The scene in the police station was actually shown in the preview, but I had forgotten about it and wasn’t expecting it at all. The “suitcase” scene reminded me a lot of the elevator scene in Annabelle, because of the built up tension that went on for what seemed like eternity. You were waiting for the scare, you knew it was coming, you prepared yourself, and of course it eventually came, but not in the way you thought it would. The demon, Key-Face, (not the most creative name) was definitely frightening and unsettling, but the Lipstick-Face Demon from the first film will always be the most spine-chilling Insidious character in my opinion, which is why they probably still give him cameos in the other films (including this one).
Ultimately, this wouldn’t be an Insidious movie without taking a trip to The Further, which this time ends up being a prison realm where the Key-Face demon keeps the souls of those he has taken. The ghost that helped Elise make the big discovery earlier on in the film reappears to guide Imogen to the gated entrance of the realm. I really loved the unearthly atmosphere leading up to the gates, but this part of The Further was supposed to be deeper and darker and I really wish they would have explored that more. The final “showdown” between Elise and Key-Face seemed a bit rushed, and the demon’s on-screen departure was a tad bit silly. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the little nod to the original Insidious that they added in there at the end.
The Last Key is definitely deserving of its place in this spectacularly spooky franchise. I am curious to see which direction the series heads in next and if they will somehow manage to fit Elise into another installment. Her chemistry with Specs and Tucker throughout each film, I believe, is a valuable part of the story and one of the reason’s the films are so successful. The “psychic-sidekick” relationship with the three of them provides the comic relief that the audience now expects from an Insidious movie. Yes, Specs and Tucker are usually the ones cracking the jokes, but Elise’s motherly role of keeping the boys in check are what makes the trio so lovable. All in all, the film sticks to its roots and keeps all of the great qualities from the other three. Insidious fans will not be let down.