Freeing the Terror with Insidious 4: Last Key

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The character of Elise Rainier from the Insidious film series is this franchise’s shining light. Lin Shaye embraces the role and makes this character special. She reminds me of Tangina Barrons from the original Poltergeist movies. Both characters are unique in the sense of how capable they are when dealing with supernatural terrors. Sadly, both characters more or less met a similar fate. Both “died.” Had there have been a fourth Poltergeist movie, I’d be curious in how this diminutive psychic would come back.

To rejig this franchise after the second film to focus on Rainier means developing this character to the fullest. This fourth entry is enjoyable for the mere fact Elise’s backstory is complete and everything I need to know about her is very nicely told. She has a psychic gift not everyone understands, and others can fear. Throughout the series, she weighs in on why she has to play hero.

In the afterlife according to writer/director Leigh Whannell, the freaks of purgatory exist because of the past shaped by those humans who embraced the Darkness. These spirits do not always come from the bottle. Ever since the first movie, the major baddie, namely the Red Faced Demon, is a wicked djinn who is intent on making a foothold in human reality. This film stands out as one of the better thought out tales. Not all horrors have to be about the undying.

The demonic is often said to feed on human fears and hate. This movie makes this fact a truism and I have to wonder where have all the flowers gone? I mean, there has to be a few angels to help out. The evil can not go around unabated. A counterpoint needs to exist. Help arrives, and unlike past films which depends on Rainier to save the day, this one sees her getting help elsewhere.

Specs and Tucker try to do just that, and they are victorious in small ways. They are essentially the comedic relief and true to form, they are stupidly hilarious. And Just how they got their uniform (as seen from the first two films) is finally answered. They are here to help Rainier deal with a problem from her past. She gets a call which brings her back to her childhood home. It’s haunted by more than one ghost and she obviously can not do it alone.

In what she faces helps connect all the films. The phone call she receives leads to the first film. Just where this franchise will go next will have to leap forward in time to after the events of the second film. Perhaps audiences will get to learn who Darth Maul, er the Red Faced Demon, is. Elise “released” him, and she alone will have to face it in an eventual showdown that will end this series. However long that will take, my hope is that the producers are not dragging this product out for too long. Shaye is not getting younger, and the Grim Reaper does have a way of creeping up.

3½ Stars out of 5

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