Insidious: The Last Key, C
Rated PG-13, 103 minutes
"Halloween" had Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). The "Insidious" films have ghost hunter Elise Rainier, played by the charming Lin Shaye, who has carried these films since the first one in 2011. The latest entry, "Insidious: The Lost Key" is silly as ever, not as scary as the other installments, featuring a lot of Elise's backstory, but Shaye, in another fine turn, manages to nearly hold the film together.
Brilliant parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) receives a disturbing phone call from a man who claims that his house is haunted. Even more disturbing is the address -- 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys, N.M. -- the home where Elise grew up as a child. Accompanied by her two investigative partners Specs (writer and creator Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Simpson), Elise travels to Five Keys to confront and destroy her greatest fear -- the demon that she accidentally set free years earlier.
"Insidious: The Lost Key" is directed by Adam Robitel (writer on "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension") and is written and co-produced by co-star Whannell, as well as co-producer Jason Blum. You have to give Blum and his Blumhouse productions credit here, as they do with most of their horror films, they come with a built-in audience, so they can make them on the cheap and then turn them around for a huge profit. I just hope they pay Shaye good money as she's the real heart and soul of this franchise.
This chapter, which is the 4th film but technically the 2nd in terms of the "Insidious" chronology, features a more vulnerable, less-bad ass Elise as it explores her traumatic childhood and the demons that still haunt her. Though in terms of storytelling it's not necessarily bad, it's just all that scary and may be a disappointment for those seeking some real scares. The uneven last act is a little loopy too and there's little build-up to it as it draws a couple of Elise's nieces (Caitlin Gerard and Spencer Locke) into the proceedings.
On that note, "Insidious: The Lost Key" is more of a family affair, as it features Elise's monstrous, creepy father ("Criminal Minds'" Josh Stewart) and her younger brother (Bruce Davison). Those scenes that explore Elise's childhood are well-handled, both intense and tender, though it doesn't necessarily fit into the general "Insidious" ghost hunting motif very well.
"Insidious: The Lost Key" isn't the strongest "Insidious" chapter (I only cared for the first one, for the record) and I don't recommend it, but I do have another recommendation: give the appealing Shaye her own ghost hunting TV show. After all she's been through as Elise, she deserves it and I know it'd be a hit.