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Seeing the Pattern

Insidious: The Last Key follows franchise frontrunner Elise Rainier as she returns to her childhood home in order to save the current resident from falling victim to the same spirits that haunted her as a child. She is forced to confront the evils of her past, both the ethereal and the corporeal.

Insidious: The Last Key Review

As I mentioned in the Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2018 post yesterday, I was able to catch The Last Key and wanted to make sure I got the 2018 list up before posting about this movie. I am a pretty big fan of the Insidious franchise. I think the first film is a staple of turn-of-the-century horror, the direct sequel is mediocre and the third installment was a great time, particularly because of the style and design of the villain. The Last Key follows more closely in the footsteps of the third film, which is both a good and bad thing.

There are essentially 3 James Wan film franchises that he has nursed from the beginning: Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious. The latter 2 have started to form a common bond. The Conjuring in particular has shown mirroring characteristics with X-Files, as the Warrens act like investigators for the paranormal and tackle a "monster of the week" in each film. Insidious has gone that route as well, with the demon, the woman in black, and two evil spirits that appear to be collecting souls.

I love the idea of doing the "monster of the week" dynamic in the franchise. I like that we don't necessarily get a direct recollection of the evil spirit's past as well. It's not imperative to the story to know those details. I like the clues that the look and behavior of the spirits give us to guess at what they truly are. The point is, though, that you don't need to know everything about them to defeat them. It's more about their nature than the details of their past. The untainted mystery is a theme of the films that I find refreshing rather than frustrating.

However, the feel of this spirit reminds me too much of the one from the third film. I would have preferred a more original villain design, especially from a film franchise that is on a relatively short run (mainly referring to Saw here). I still loved it, and I loved the concepts that were taken further in this film, but it still felt a bit repetitive in the wrong ways.

It does have the usual struggles with far-too-awkward comedic moments and an unnecessary obsession with directly connecting each film. We get it, she does this a lot. And the connective twists aren't enough that your are gasping at the cleverness of it all. It's more like a stinger at the end of Marvel movie credits than a piece to any puzzle.

And I guess that's what the question really comes down to. Is the "monster of the week" path going to work out? Will it get too repetitive, even for the likes of me? I did enjoy The Last Key...a lot. But I don't think it built upon the previous films in any significant way. And that's what begs the ultimate question...will these movies continue to be fun? For now, the James Wan formula is at a fever pitch, and for good reason. But are we starting to re-use ideas and falling into the same trap that dilutes horror from time to time? I hope not.

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 9/10

Horror Quality: 7/10

Film Quality: 6/10

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