Though unspectacular, film quality does not sink lower than the underworld the characters must navigate.
This fourth installment tells the origins of protagonist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Rainier experienced an unusual childhood. Living in a typical haunted house near the Five Keys, New Mexico prison, Rainier demonstrates paranormal abilities.
While in the basement, these paranormal abilities allow Rainier to hear a child urge her to unlock a mysterious red door. Predictably, Rainier has less common sense than the audience. She opens the door to find an unfriendly demon who is not selling Girl Scout cookies.
In the present, Rainier learns that her childhood house may be haunted again. Now a paranormal investigator, she quickly learns old demons die hard.
As fans know, the "Insidious" franchise is a harbinger of horror cliches. "The Last Key" is no different. Eye-rolling dialogue, literally eye-rolling demons, frequent darkness and an abusive father all appear.
Surprisingly, terrifying jump scares did not make the list. The signature of this franchise, Series Writer Leigh Whannell elects for emotional investment this time. Jump scares are infrequent compared to the other movies.
The decision pays off. Shaye faces the challenge of elevating the typical eerie elder background role to a supportive protagonist at the forefront. Shaye delivers a believable performance as a hero shrouded in vulnerability.
Though the supporting cast offers almost nothing beyond comic relief, Shaye compensates. Still, character development beyond her character is noticeably absent. Demons add quick scares without substance. The main villain is particularly underdeveloped.
Atmospherics ensure tension develops better than antagonists. The claustrophobic nature of this film allows viewers to feel nervous for the inhabitants of the haunted house. Thankfully, Director Adam Robitel forgot to cross "obnoxious baselines" off the horror cliche list. The music — though lacking tension — does not detract.
Additionally, a snappy pace prevents this film from dragging on. Despite the 143-minute run time, viewers should not have problems watching the screen instead of their phone.
Financially, this film has performed well. Against a $10 million budget, "The Last Key" has grossed $92.6 million in less than three weeks.
"The Last Key" does not unlock a masterpiece. However, the movie is decent enough to warrant "Insidious" fans watching it.