When it comes to modern-day ghost movies, Insidious films are among the top franchises to watch. The combination of great characters, great stories, and great acting make watching any film in the series a pleasure to view. For those who are asking, “What the hell is Insidious?”
Let me enlighten you!
In 2010, the architects of the Saw series, Leigh Whannell (The Bye Bye Man – 2007) and James Wan (Dead Silence – 2007) hooked up again to create Insidious. It’s a masterful story about a family that’s haunted by evil spirits trying to enter our world from the world of the dead by any means necessary. In this universe, certain humans can astral-project themselves into “The Further,” which has no set time or continuity. But, there are spirits that are also hanging around, trying to come back to life and waiting for a vessel. Some just want to live again, while others are far more devious.
Featuring great acting from Lin Shaye (Detroit Rock City – 1999), Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World – 2015), Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring – 2013), Barbara Hershey (The Entity – 1982), Angus Sampson (Darkness Falls – 2003), Whannell himself and Rose Byrne (X-Men First Class – 2011), the first Insidious was a smashing success.
In 2013 a sequel was released. Insidious: Chapter 2 brilliantly wrapped up the events of the first movie and completed the story. Insidious Chapter 2 introduced new characters, including spiritual advisor Carl (Steve Coulter – After – 2012) and Matri Morte…the mother of death who was played expertly by Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky – 2013).
Franchise stalwarts such as evil ghost Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick – American Horror Story) and the now legendary “Lipstick Face Demon/Fireface” (Joseph Bishara, the composer of the Insidious soundtrack) were also introduced to scare the daylights out of unsuspecting viewers.
The first two movies are all-time classics and must be seen to be appreciated.
A Third Chapter
In 2015, a third movie called Insidious: Chapter 3 was made. This one is a prequel. Lin Shaye’s character Elise became the central character. As she grieves for her deceased husband, she also works to save a family from another evil spirit. This time out, a young girl is trying to contact her dead mother who died of cancer. Instead, she catches the attention of a savage ghost that specializes in suicide named “The Man Who Can’t Breathe” (Michael Reid MacKay – The Monster Squad – 1987). He conveniently once lived in the apartment above the girl.
Initially, the girl’s father (Dermot Mulroney – Young Guns – 1988) doesn’t believe the mumbo jumbo that’s going on. But soon realizes it’s all too real. The beauty of the third movie is, you don’t have to have seen the first two films to understand the plot. The second movie would leave a lot of fans scratching their heads had they not seen the first Insidious. Here, you can understand the story even if you haven’t seen the first two (although it would still be recommended).
Insidious: Chapter 3 added a nice new wrinkle to the story. It introduces a devious character that wants nothing more than to take the world with it.
The Last Key
And now for the main event of the evening! Insidious: The Last Key was released five years ago, in 2018. This was supposed to be the final movie of the series, explaining the life and times of Elise Rainer (Shaye). Just like the previous movie, you don’t need to have seen the first three in order to understand the plot of Insidious: The Last Key.
The movie begins after the events of Chapter 3. Elise and her team of Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) are called by a weirdo named Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo – The Oz series) to get rid of the annoying ghosts in his house. Elise is horrified to learn that Ted’s house happens to be the one she grew up in. It’s revealed she lived with her abusive prison guard father Gerald (Josh Stewart – The Collector – 2009), her brother Christian, and her mother Audrey (Tessa Ferrer – Abducted – 2013) in a house just yards away from a prison where executions occur regularly.
One night it’s revealed that Elise can see ghosts. Audrey knows, but Gerald tries to beat the gift out of her. When she was a child, Elise unknowingly freed the evil spirit Key Face (Javier Botet – It – 2017), who proceeded to murder Audrey and drive Gerald insane. Back in the present, Elise and her crew travel to Five Keys, New Mexico, to find out the house is not only haunted by the spirits of the prison, but Garza is just as insane as her father was.
A new story element is introduced with new characters: the now older Christian (Bruce Davison – X-Men – 2000) and his daughters Melissa (Spencer Locke – Resident Evil Extinction – 2007) and Imogen (Caitlin Gerard – The Awakening – 2010). Imogen can also astral project. She’s needed here, as Key Face has made life miserable for anyone within the confines of the prison or surrounding area for quite a long time.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the Rainer family, along with Specs & Tucker, must join together to defeat Key Face and end his reign of terror once and for all.
So is Insidious: The Last Key good? Actually, yes. The problem is, if you’ve seen all three previous films, you’ll be able to tell when a jump scare is coming. For example, in one scene, Elise finds an underground tunnel leading to the prison where her father has stashed the bodies of his victims. While she’s going through the suitcases, the camera from behind the suitcases begins to zoom in. It telegraphs that a scare is coming. Sure enough, Key Face pops up out of one of the suitcases.
Now, if you hadn’t seen any of the previous three movies, you might have not been ready for it. This kind of telegraphing cheapens the scare. Compare that to when Stefanie Scott (Spare Room – 2018) gets hit by a car out of complete nowhere in Insidious: Chapter 3. THAT’S how you set up a jump scare.
Apart from that, the story was still very good and it sets up the first movie perfectly. The makeup effects are top-notch. The Further ghosts look creepy, and Key Face looks downright terrifying. The acting was amazing. Josh Stewart did so well as Gerald, it makes you want to jump through the screen and punch him out yourself. The dark and dreary setting makes for intentionally bad lighting to set the tone, which also works well.
When all is said and done, can I recommend Insidious: The Last Key? Absolutely. Buy it, rent it, steal it….okay maybe not THAT option. Either way, you don’t have to see the prior three movies to enjoy this one, although it is recommended.
But wait there’s more! Apparently, the major donors in Hollywood decided after 5 years to bring the Insidious series back. Later this year there will be a fifth Insidious movie. Dalton (Simpkins), as he begins college, is the main star. Whannell is joining forces with Scott Teems (Halloween Kills – 2021) to write it. Patrick Wilson will sit in the Director’s chair.
Hopefully, that will be a good movie, but what *IS* a good movie is Insidious: The Last Key.
Are you a fan of the Insidious franchise? Where does The Last Key rank for you? Tell us in the comments!