Parents need to know that "Insidious: The Last Key" is the fourth movie in the "Insidious" horror franchise, which focuses on paranormal investigator/psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her sidekicks. A young girl is whipped and locked up by her father, and women are kidnapped, chained, and locked up. A woman is smacked across the room by a monster, and a man's skull is smashed by a falling bureau (he also gets a blow to the back of his head). There's some blood, and a gun is brandished, with one shot fired. Other violent events are mentioned. Language includes a use of "f--king," as well as "hell" (spoken by a child). There's a little flirting and a brief kiss. A bottle of whisky is shown, and a character drinks from a bottle of beer. This installment is less inspired than its predecessors, but it's not terrible and has some decent scares.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
In "Insidious: The Last Key," psychic/paranormal investigator Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) has recently wrapped up the Quinn Brenner case (from "Insidious: Chapter 3"), but nightmares are plaguing her sleep. Memories of her dark childhood in Five Keys, New Mexico, with an abusive father (Josh Stewart), keep coming up. Before long, Elise gets a call from a terrified Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), who lives in her old house and is being terrorized by malevolent spirits. Joined by her intrepid/knucklehead sidekicks Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), Elise begins her examination. More dark secrets from her past turn up, including memories of her younger brother, guilt over her mother, a lost whistle, and a gaggle of ghosts. But Elise makes a startling discovery: There's something different about these ghosts.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
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This fourth entry in this successful horror series is an example of diminishing returns; though the characters are still interesting, it's clear that less care and attention were given to this movie. Filmmakers James Wan (whose first "Insidious" was the best) and Leigh Whannell (a writer on the entire series and director of "Insidious: Chapter 3") have hired a second-stringer, Adam Robitel, to helm "Insidious: The Last Key," and it shows. Robitel gamely tries to follow the playbook and comes up with one or two great, spooky scenes – including one in which Elise makes a startling discovery inside a tube-shaped air duct. But the director mostly relies on loud noises and jump-scares.
He's not so great with the emotional scenes, either, including Elise's reunion with her long-lost brother. Christian (Bruce Davison), as well as Specs and Tucker's awkward flirting with Christian's teen daughters. The movie's theme of "family" doesn't quite click when all those scenes are awkward and soapy. Frankly, the best reason to see this is Shaye, a wonderful character actress who embodies sweetness and vulnerability and also has a weathered, fearless quality; now in her 70s, Shaye has come into her own only recently as a horror star. "Insidious: The Last Key" has finally elevated her to leading lady status, and that's exciting to see.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 14 and older
Quality: 2 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 3 out of 5
Violence: 4 out of 5
Sex: 1 out of 5
Language: 3 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 1 out of 5
Consumerism: 0 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)
In theaters: January 5, 2018
Director: Adam Robitel
Studios: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios
Run time: 103 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
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