In the past 10 years or so, I've had a real dilemma as a fan of horror movies.

On one hand, there have been a lot of them, which should be good! On the other hand, the vast majority of them have been similar to Insidious: The Last Key; all about hauntings, set in one old house, full of creepy children, loud jumpscares, rated PG-13, etc.

Now, I must say I have not seen the previous Insidious films (The Last Key is the fourth), but I know the synopses, and this new movie stands well enough on its own. However, it unfortunately ticks all of the boxes I mentioned above, that I feel have been bogging down the genre for too long.

Insidious: The Last Key tells the story of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), a demonologist/ghost hunter with psychic and other supernatural powers. In this movie, she and her two associates must go and investigate a haunting taking place in the fictional Five Keys, New Mexico. The kicker is, the house is the same house that she had a very troubled childhood in, and where some of her strongest ghost experiences took place.

The film starts out in a flashback, set in the house in the 1950's, when Elise is a young girl. I have to say that this first 15-20 minutes was some of the most unbearable and cringeworthy cinema I have ever seen; chock-full of cliches so bad I audibly groaned, and very nearly walked out of the theater.

Universal Pictures via YouTube
Universal Pictures via YouTube

When the movie shifts its focus to Elise as an adult, it does pick up; I find Shaye's performance to be entertaining, and it's interesting to watch a film where the lead is a woman in her seventies.

Watching Insidious: The Last Key develop over the run time was fascinating as well. While I wont spoil things, there are a few genuinely fun ideas being played around with, and a few unexpected things happen.

What really dooms this film in my mind, though, is that it isn't scary. Horror movies like The Last Key work on a formula now, where they make a little attempt to build tension, but most of the "horror" comes from jump scares.

For those that aren't aware, a jump scare is when something spooky happens unexpectedly on screen, and it's almost certainly accompanied by a loud noise; a book falling onto the ground, a large stab by shrieking violins, and so on. The way the formula works, you usually have one of these every 10 minutes or so.

The problem is, this isn't scary, it's startling. The difference between the two is, is that something scary will keep you thinking about it, worrying about it, long after the movie is over, while something startling just makes you jump in your seat in the theater.

Universal Pictures via YouTube
Universal Pictures via YouTube

Despite those complaints, though, the biggest issue I have with Insidious: The Last Key by far is the assistants Elise brings on her ghost hunting adventure, played by Angus Simpson and the film's writer Leigh Whannell. These two idiots are the most insufferable, annoying characters I have seen on the screen in a VERY long time. Everything they say or do makes me want to puncture my eardrums with a pencil. I think they were supposed to be comic relief, but that wasn't needed! Their only role, as far as I can tell, is to ruin any tension that might have been created, maybe so the audience wouldn't get too scared? I have no idea, but I am monumentally irritated.

The Last Key probably has a little more to offer to those who enjoyed the first three films, and while this is by no means the worst horror movie I have ever seen, I don't know if I can recommend it.

See the trailer below.

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