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Directed by Adam Robitel
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, Aleque Reid, Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Bruce Davison, Marcus Henderson, Amanda Jaros, Judith Drake, Hana Hayes, Thomas Robie, Josh Wingate, Melanie Gaydos, Ty Simpkins, Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Joseph Bishara, Stefanie Scott, Barbara Hershey, Danielle Bisutti, Brynn Bowie, Madison Bowie,
& Javier Botet as Keyface!

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 4 subtitled THE LAST KEY proves that there is very little life in a series that once sparked a landslide of both good and bad tropes in horror cinema over the last eight years. The INSIDIOUS series succeeds every time in giving me a startle or two, but as the series went on, it became overwrought with the same jump scares, piano bangs, and fright imagery that set it apart in the first place. While a mythology has been built and consistently been adhered to, everyone in this series feels to be as tired and ready to move on as I am.

While ghosthunter and demonslayer Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) has taken on some powerful demons in her day, she has always been haunted by the demons of her childhood. When a mysterious call in the night brings Elise back to the home of her youth to investigate a current haunting, it unearths a lot of bad memories of an abusive childhood, the development of her paranormal powers, and a demon with keys for fingers known as Keyface (Javier Botet). Along for the ride, as usual, are Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and writer Leigh Whannell), who assist Elise in her investigations. Returning to her home helps solve an age old mystery and opens the door into the Further in the present where Elise fights to save her own soul as well as the soul of her nieces who also have paranormal powers of their own.

So this installment of INSIDIOUS delves into Elise’s past rather than some random family haunted by ghosts of the further. I guess it was a logical step in the story making this time much more personal than the previous entries. Lin Shaye continues to be fun to watch as she takes on these monsters. Her performance is much more of an emotional one here, which I prefer rather than the elderly asskicker version of the character that appeared in the last installment (which I found to be unintentionally laughable). While Sampson and Whannell have always been played for laughs in this series, they have basically been reduced to one note jokes and lame slapstickery that at this point causes less of a release of tension and more of an eyeroll.

The inclusion of veteran actor Bruce Davidson is nice, but he has very little to do here. I actually liked seeing OZ’s Kirk Acevedo and THE COLLECTOR/THE COLLECTION’s Josh Stewart as both seem to be the only ones giving their all. The actresses playing Elise’s nieces might be decent thespians, but the script writes them as so flat, they really don’t leave an impression. And Javier Botet once again gives Doug Jones a run for his money as King of the Lanky Monsters in his portrayal of Keyface, but if you’ve seen Botet’s work before in MAMA, THE CONJURING 2, DON’T KNOCK TWICE, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, IT, [REC], or the countless other horror films he’s appeared in, you pretty much know what to expect. At least Jones has proven himself for having a repertoire of various movements, voices, and gestures, while Botet seems to only be able to play the lanky, creeping monster over and over.

While INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 rehashed the tired jump scare every three minutes motif over and over again, INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 4 seems to have learned its lesson and keeps the scares to more of a minimum. Unfortunately, the fourth installment replaces this with schmaltzy heartwarming moments and even ends with a big group hug that may signal that this crew is going to be together for the last time. I’d really be ok if this is the last installment of this series. While it isn’t a terrible movie, it probably is the weakest, as it just doesn’t feel like anyone in the main cast is trying that hard anymore. The film ends with a sort of cyclical note that starts the whole series over again with an appearance once again by the Lipstick demon from the original film (by far the most frightening of the INSIDIOUS demons). I’d be much happier to revisit the truly shocking original film than endure another chapter rehashing what’s come before.

While INSIDIOUS did open the door for a new era of horror, it also mainstreamed the jump scare and piano bang as the sole tool in the toolbox for scares in these films. With the rise in smarter horror films such as THE WITCH, IT COMES AT NIGHT, GET OUT, A QUIET PLACE, and the upcoming HEREDITARY, I come to hope the horror genre has grown past the simple fight or flight startling reflex zinger that sprouted from this series. I’m hoping the film series ends with this one and all involved move on to fresher things. INSIDIOUS 4: THE LAST KEY is good for a scare or two and even improves on some of the evident faults of the last installment, but it’s definitely has run its course. For the good of all involved, let’s just move on while it’s still halfway watchable.