• Insidious: The Last Key

    Released by: Sony Pictures
    Released on: April 3rd, 2017.
    Director: Adam Robitel
    Cast: Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye
    Year: 2018
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    The Movie:

    This sequel (that is actually a prequel) opens with a scene where we meet a young Elise Rainier (Ava Kolker) in the home she shares with her mother Audrey (Tessa Ferrer), father Gerald (Josh Stewart) and brother Christian (Pierce Pope). Even at a young age, we learn that Elise could see ghosts – which is something that deeply upsets her father, a man who works at the nearby prison where inmates are frequently sent to the electric chair. When Elise notes that she’s seen something, her father presses her to deny it, and when she doesn’t, she’s punished. After beating her, he sends her down to the basement where she sees a red door. When she opens that door, ‘something’ is let out and that something then kills her mother.

    Eventually Elise (Lin Shaye) leaves home, abandoning Christian (Bruce Davison) and never getting to know his two daughters, Imogen (Caitlin Gerard) and Melissa (Spencer Locke). All of this changes when Elise gets a phone call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), the current owner of the house that Elise grew up in. He wants her help dealing with some entities that are haunting him. Soon enough, she’s run off in an RV with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) back to her old homestead to hopefully help out Ted and set things right once and for all.

    While the movie plays towards fan service but putting Elise front and center in this story, it fails to do much else to differentiate it from the other three films in the Insidious franchise. To be fair, Lin Shaye is very good in the part. She comes across as a genuinely nice, caring woman and Shaye fits the role like a glove – it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Elise at this point – but we can’t help but leave the picture wondering if the story couldn’t have done more with all of this. The origin story helps to flesh her out a bit more and having her reconnect with her family is a nice touch, but again, not much comes of it. Her two nieces are there more as a punchline than anything else, pretty girls that catch the eyes of Specs and Tucker and that are later put into danger… but we never care about them. Bruce Davison’s character is understandably upset with his sister once they reconnect after a few decades, but again, there’s no meat on these bones, it doesn’t amount to much when it’s all over and done with.

    As to the production values, this latest entry is on par with the first three films. Much of the movie is made up of characters wandering about in ‘The Further’ with the lights off and the smoke machine rolling. We get some ‘found footage’ style clips in here too, in scenes where Elise is exploring the house and Specs and Tucker are monitoring her progress thanks to a camera she wears. The movie throws in a few decent, if mostly predictable jump scares to keep audiences engaged, but the end result is pretty mediocre, a throwaway film that fans of the franchise will want to see once but that few will probably want to revisit.


    Insidious: The Last Key probably looks pretty good on Blu-ray but on DVD? Nope. The 2.39.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer suffers from terrible compression artifacts in the darker scenes and the darker scenes makeup well over half of the movie. Detail gets gobbled up in the shadows and occasional macroblocking is easily spotted. On top of that, there’s banding issues. Colors look okay and brighter scenes look fine, but even for standard definition the compression on this disc is terrible

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on the disc is decent enough. Dialogue is clean and clear and there is nice use of the surrounds to help build atmosphere and tension in the film’s more intense moments. The score sounds good and the levels are nicely balanced. As you’d expect for a brand new big studio production, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish.

    The disc lists quite a few extras on the sleeve, but most of them are pretty short. First up is a five-minute Franchise Recap: Dive Into The Insidious Universe featurette that is exactly what it sounds like: a quick look back at the three movies that precede this one. In the five-minute Becoming Elise piece we basically recap Elise’s origin and, for those who can’t be bothered to pay attention to things, how her story ties into the franchise. Going Into The Further is a three-minute that explains what ‘The Further’ means to the characters in the series while the three-minute Unlocking Keyface piece talks about the main demon featured in the movie and discusses how and why he was created to look the way that he does in the film.

    The disc also includes an alternate ending, eight deleted scenes (running just under nineteen-minutes in length), trailers for other Sony properties available on home video, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Insidious: The Last Key may give the series’ most popular supporting characters more screen time but it really is more of the same. While Shay and company are still entertaining enough in their respective roles, the story feels like more of the same, failing to breath new life into a franchise that, at this point, has become repetitive. Sony’s DVD release sounds good but the extras are thin and the transfer is a disappointment.