When I was younger and what seems like another lifetime I used to work for Frito-Lay. I can go on and on of all the joys of having more chips around you than you can eat in a lifetime, but I feel that would just bore you. Instead I will tell you one of my main jobs and that would be checking the chips to see if they had expired. When I found a bad bag, I had to take it off the shelf and while there was nothing wrong with the chips, it was past the expiration date and that was all that mattered. I told that story of expired chips to say that movie or more so movie franchises also have expiration dates, but unlike someone like me who kept you from experiencing what happens when you past those dates, some movie studios could care less.
Which brings us to the Insidious franchise, now on movie number four and with a title of ‘The Last Key’ you hope is more of a promise they keep. Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shayne) gets her own story this time as you might know her as the lady who is called when people need to get to the other side. Elise doesn’t come alone, she has her psy-kicks, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) with her who not only provide her with help but also us as the audience the comic relief. We start by seeing Elise’s origin story in which she lives in a house next to a prison and for a person who can see the dead this would be the equivalent of a gold mind. Things don’t go well for her there as her mother is killed and her father tries to beat the ghost-seeing out of her. Elise does what she thinks is the best thing for her as she runs away and never looks back. Fast forward sixty years later and a guy calls her about a ghost problem and it ends up being her childhood home, which causes her to say no at first only to eventually succumb. Once there she must rid the house of a demon she let into this world and to protect the nieces she never knew she had.
For me the ‘Insidious’ franchise has up to now kept a pretty even pace on what it delivered, but it took a deep dive with the latest chapter. While the idea of telling the story of Dr. Elise Rainer might have sounded good, because when has prequels not worked out? Writer Leigh Whannell unfortunately never seems to pull it off. The long establishing shots that you come to expect in a Blumhouse production are there, but this time very little is happening in them. Yeah sure there are a few jump scares, but for the most part the only fear you have is that you won’t be able to get these two hours back again. If the lack of scares in a horror movie are not enough, the demon named KeyFace looks and sounds like something a kid would come up with. The only highlights are provided by Whannell and Sampson and their perfect timed comedic performances. Like I said before the first three films did just fine and can hold their own in the studio horror genre, but like most things, this franchise tried to stay around too long and goes out on a whimper instead of a scream.