Look, even if you're a huge fan of Insidious (as I am), it's hard to argue against the idea that it wasn't a horror movie that felt designed to kick off a long-running series. The second film was good, although already felt at times as if it was repeating a few of the tricks that the original had done so well, and the third film, while enjoyable enough, was too far removed from the previous events to really win over fans.
So now we're at the fourth (and final?) instalment, and where does it sit in comparison to the other entries? Well, it's not bad. It's still a step removed from the first films, yet it feels closer to them than that third chapter.
Lin Shaye returns as Elise Rainier, the psychic who can battle ghosts and demonic forces most people cannot see. She's once again joined by Specs (played by writer Leigh Wannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), but she would much rather enjoy a quiet life than put herself through any more strain and horribly perilous "adventures". That looks unlikely, however, when she gets a call from someone (Ted, played by Kirk Acevedo) who believes that his house is haunted. It happens to be the house that Elise lived in when she was a young girl, and she knows how bad it is there. So she sets off to help Ted, perhaps looking for some closure at the same time.
The Insidious series certainly benefits from having Leigh Wannell writing each instalment. He's okay in front of the camera, but it's the writing that is clearly his forte. Like the best of these slick, modern, mainstream horrors, Insidious: The Last Key lays out plenty of details in the earlier scenes to pick them up again later, when the scares are being delivered. Learning more about Elise, how she was as a youngster when discovering her "gift", works very well, thanks to it being a character that viewers have now journeyed with for some time, and also thanks to the third act developments.
Adam Robitel is the director this time, and he does a perfectly acceptable job. This relies more on jump scares than the first couple of movies (I know they were accused by many of having no atmosphere, I disagree) but they're done very well, with one or two moments of impressively creepy imagery that may well stay in your mind long after the end credits have rolled.
As for the cast, forget about everyone else onscreen and enjoy Lin Shaye, a woman who has been in many horror movies over the years and has now been the unexpected lynchpin of this successful series. She never gives less than 100% in her portrayal of Elise, even in scenes that try to let Wannell and Sampson lighten things up a bit with some awkward comedy. Bruce Davison is also as good as ever, but is onscreen for about one or two minutes, and you get decent enough performances from Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, and Tessa Ferrer, among others.
If you've seen the other films then you should give this one a watch. It's completely unnecessary, and could have been improved by removing a couple of the characters, but it's still solid entertainment.
You can buy this here.
Americans can buy it here.