‘Insidious: The Last Key’ continues franchise tradition of emotionally resonant horror (Movie review)

There has always been a sense in the “Insidious” movies that they are about more than the scares. In each of the films the audience is given the opportunity to really spend time with the characters, to get an understanding of them outside the horror.

Series progenitors James Wan and Leigh Wanell must be given the credit for this. The dedication to pathos is evident in their ”Conjuring” franchise as well.

At the heart of the Insidious universe has always been Lin Shaye’s Elise Rainier. She has been the single most important element in tethering the franchise to something resembling reality. Whenever things start to get too silly she is there, delivering a finely tuned, nuanced performance that reminds the audience of what is at stake.

In the third film and this most recent entry, “The Last Key,” she has taken center stage. As a result each of these films have been better than the first two films, and this one is an improvement on the third.

That’s right. Despite the critical drubbing this entry in the franchise has taken in some quarters, I think “Insidious: The Last Key” is the best the franchise has had to offer so far.

The key-fingered demon at its center is genuinely unsettling. Elise’s backstory is well told and at times captivating. And of course, there is Lin Shaye, a genre stalwart who has been given her moments to shine in this franchise, especially in “The Last Key.”

The film brings her story full circle, and she approaches the material with a zeal and enthusiasm that is infectious.

There are some issues with the film, to be sure. While very good, it does not transcend the trappings of its genre. Certain plot elements are recycled from other films, and while they are recycled professionally, this is certainly the most familiar movie in the franchise to date.

The lack of originality is compensated for by the quietly creepy mood of the piece, though. Between the performances, the scares and an undeniable heart, “Insidious: The Last Key” manages to be a very good horror film.

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