Blu-ray Review: Insidious: The Last Key

By , Contributor
The Insidious series rolls on with the fourth and latest entry from the ubiquitous Blumhouse Productions factory with Insidious: The Last Key. Timeline-wise, this one falls in between the first and second films. The franchise began back in 2010 and has since racked up success with each outing, but the series hasn't truly entered into the mainstream consciousness. In other words, if you have been following Insidious since the James Wan-directed original, The Last Key is for you. If you're not an established fan, this new one probably won't hold much interest.

Screenwriter Leigh Whannell returns for the fourth time (he directed Insidious: Chapter 3) and brings back series veteran Lin Shaye as paranormal expert Elise Rainier. At the outset, Elise is contacted by a man, Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), who's living in her Five Keys, New Mexico childhood home. Ted has reached out to Elise and her investigation team, which consists of herself and assistants Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (writer Leigh Whannell)—each returning from previous installments as well. The reason is no surprise, of course: Ted's house is haunted.

Elise takes the case, feeling a sense of responsibility due to it being her childhood home after all. She and the boys head out to Five Keys to do some ghost-hunting, all filmed with night vision and accompanied by the usual jolting noises and half-seen shadowy terrors. Twists creep into the story, but really the most compelling elements of The Last Key involve its frequent flashbacks to Elise's home life as a child. The young Elise (first Ava Kolker, then the teenage Hana Hayes) and her brother Christian (Pierce Pope and Thomas Robie) suffer a horrific existence with abusive father Gerald (Josh Stewart). Family secrets are unlocked as we see young Elise struggling with her powers.

Academy Award-nominee (for Longtime Companion in 1990) Bruce Davison is the big "get" here for The Last Key, a film that boasts less marquee value than any other in the series. He plays the adult Christian and he's fine, though Christian's daughters—Elise's nieces (hey, that would've made a cute subtitle for this Insidious)—Melissa (Spencer Locke) and Imogen (Caitlin Gerard) have meatier roles in the narrative.

Sony Pictures unlocks The Last Key on Blu-ray with a decent A/V presentation (the jump scares are definitely enhanced by the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix, though the dialogue—particularly the whispered parts—are frustratingly low in the mix). It also offers a neat little selection of bonus materials, including nearly 20 minutes of deleted scenes. There's also an alternate ending. The remaining four featurettes are pretty brief overall, but "Dive Into the Insidious Universe" offers a nice series recap. "Unlocking the Keys," "Becoming Elise," and "Going Into The Further" offer fairly superficial but fun-for-fans insights.

Say this for the makers of Insidious: The Last Key: there aren't many lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions for 74-year-old women, but they've provided a high-profile hit for star Lin Shaye. While The Last Key isn't particularly involving truth be told, it did score well enough at the box office to apparently ensure the series' future.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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