Insidious: The Last Key


Parapsychologist Elise Rainier is back, and this time her newest case will take her to where it all began. A man calls asking for Elise’s help. It turns out the man lives in her childhood house. Elise is forced to remember her tragic past and the horrifying events that lead up to her returning to her hometown. She must solve this case in order to save her family from the demon that ruined their lives.

I want to start by giving some context to the film as it is technically another prequel to the first two installments. This film takes place after Elise has helped Quinn, and before she helps Dalton. The timeline for the Insidious films is as follows: Insidious: Chapter 3, Insidious: The Last Key, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2. That being said, there is a lot of timeline overlap between the films thanks to the Further breaking the rules of time and flashbacks. The best part of this installment is that it finally gives me what I wanted; more of Elise’s backstory. Through a series of flashbacks and dream sequences the audience finally gets to learn about Elise’s childhood and the events that lead her becoming a parapsychologist. It is the strongest aspect of the film, and I wish there was much more of it.

Much of the downside to this film is when we get to the present. The first half of the film deals with more of Elise’s past, but when we see the investigation at her childhood house things begin to spiral downward. The main issue is that the filmmakers attempt to cram too many subplots into one story. There is Elise’s origin, the investigation at her old house, and what happens when she once again enters the Further. While any two of these would work well together, having all three storylines together in a single film is a bit much. As a result, while Elise’s backstory feels more complete, the other two subplots are underdeveloped. It gives the impression that the resolutions come too quickly and too easily. Especially when looking at what happens in the Further, there is virtually no explanation for much of what is shown. What’s even worse is that we never get a true sense of what the ultimate villain is trying to achieve or why. Many of his actions have no purpose, or at least not one that is apparent to audiences. If you look back at the early trailers and some of the promotional stills from the film there are several scenes that were not in the final cut of the film. It makes me wonder what this film could have been and if there was more explanation before the studio got their hands on it.

Along with Elise’s backstory being a strong point for The Last Key, Elise herself is likely the strongest aspect of the entire Insidious franchise. Lin Shaye (Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2) has been the one constant as Elise throughout the films. She always delivers a strong performance, and the fact that a horror film franchise focuses on a strong elderly woman is absolutely fantastic. Shaye makes the most of this film, despite some of the clunky dialogue, and makes audiences fall in love with her all over again. No matter what, Shaye shines through and commands the screen. As always, Elise has her trusty sidekicks by her side in this installment. There is Leigh Whannell (Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2) as Specs and Angus Sampson (Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2) as Tucker. They bring some heart and comedic relief to the thrills and chills of the film.

The Insidious films are known for having iconic and stylistic demons. The Last Key is no different. The villain, known only as KeyFace, has some disturbing creature design created with prosthetics, which are worn by none other than Javier Botet (Mama, REC). Unfortunately the amazing character design gets lost in the lack of character development. It is unfortunate that Botet’s talent is somewhat wasted in this fantastic design simply because the character is weakly written. Despite that, he is still frightening and he is the focal point for several scares throughout the film. Much like in Chapter 3, The Last Key relies heavily on jump scares and lacks some of the more subtle scares of the first two films. This film succeeds the most in building the anticipation for the jump scares. The filmmakers make you wait and wait, knowing that jump scare is coming, before the scare is finally delivered. Unfortunately, in many cases, the anticipation is more thrilling than the actual scare, but there are still plenty of frightening moments.

Insidious: The Last Key fulfills my wish of learning more about Elise, but it is still probably the weakest installment of the franchise. There are simply too many subplots, not enough development of those subplots and characters, and there are several weak points in the dialogue. Despite that, there are still some positives of the film. Elise has a fascinating backstory that audiences finally get to learn, and Shaye does a fantastic job reprising the role of Elise. While we don’t get enough information about him, the design for KeyFace is still quite iconic and disturbing. I only wish there had been more focus on him as a villain and his motivation. The Last Key completes the story of Elise in the Insidious franchise. It is an important piece of the puzzle worth watching, but I can only hope there is a director’s cut in the future that will give fans something more polished.




A scientist named Dr. Ember discovers he has the ability to enter the minds of individuals who are possessed. After the loss of his family, Ember decides to use his ability to evict the parasitic entities out of the possessed in hopes of finding the one that took his family from him. When a young boy becomes possessed his single mother reaches out to the church for help. When the church realizes this is more than they can handle, and it may be the entity Ember is looking for, they call him in for help. He undergoes is largest battle, all within the mind of a child.

In all honesty, I had very low expectations going into this film. I was concerned that it was going to essentially be a repeat of The Darkness which was made by the same production company, stars the same child actor, and has one well known actor in it. For the most part, Incarnate exceeds my expectations. What I enjoy about this film is that it approaches possession from a more scientific standpoint. What takes hold of the child isn’t a demon, but more of a parasitic thing that feeds off of his energy. It gives a fresh take to a classic possession film that tickles my science-minded fancy. The filmmakers also do an excellent job of explaining the scientific aspects in a way that feels natural. It doesn’t sound like the characters are talking about it for the sake of audience understanding.

There are some aspects of this story that I don’t enjoy as much. One thing that I can’t get over is the motivation behind why the demon is fixated on Ember. Obviously Ember wants to find the demon because the demon killed his wife and son, but I don’t understand why the demon wants to ruin Ember’s life. It is implied that the demon can sense Ember’s power, which would lead one to believe that the demon wants him dead so Ember can’t continue to evict demons. The issue with this theory is that there are many others like Ember, yet the demon doesn’t seem to care about anyone else. Another similar thing that isn’t explored enough is the odd fact that the possessed boy and his mother look eerily similar to Ember’s deceased wife and son. My initial though is that this was a purposeful casting choice. Maybe the demon chooses the lookalikes in order to torture Ember that much more. At no point are the physical similarities brought up, so it is hard to determine if it is part of the plot or just coincidence. Beyond those two aspects I am also still on the fence about the ending for this film. I won’t go into detail, but it feels like the filmmakers phoned it in  bit.

Earlier I made a comparison between Incarnate and The Darkness, one of the similarities being that it had one major actor in it that audiences would easily recognize. For The Darkness that actor was Kevin Bacon, but even he couldn’t save that film. Incarnate’s top billing actor is Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen) as Dr. Ember. Eckhart does an excellent job of portraying men who have been damaged by some kind of heartbreak. This film is no different. He is a perfect blend of tortured and determined. While the other performances in this film are fine, Eckhart is definitely the driving force that makes audiences pay attention.

One thing that this film does that I approve of is subtle effects. Those who are possessed can only be separated from those who aren’t by their somewhat sickly look and red eyes. Even in the dream world the only physical characteristic that allows you to discern demons from others are black eyes. There is only one scene where you get an idea of what a demon looks like outside of its human form, but the filmmakers clearly made a conscious decision not to show the audience everything. In an age where horror films tend to show too much, making the situations and evil beings much less terrifying, this is a very wise move.

While Incarnate exceeds many of my expectations, there are still things that fall a bit short of what could be a near perfect reinvention of a possession film. The scientific aspects and the acting are definitely the highlights. I also commend the filmmakers for not showing the full monty when it comes to the demons. If there was just a bit more exploration into why the demon wants Ember and why the mother and son Ember is helping look so much like his dead family, this movie would be a home run.  As it is, I’m left with too many questions that I need answered. Either way I would say this is worth a watch because it is exciting and brings something new to the table.


Lake Eerie

Kate (Meredith Majors) recently lost her husband in a tragic accident. She decides to cope with this loss by fulfilling her dream of owning a home on Lake Eerie. She moves into this dream home intent on recovering from her husband’s death. What Kate doesn’t know is that this house has a dark past. Now that dark past is being brought into the present, drawn by the new inhabitant of the home.

Oh Lake Eerie.. I won’t lie, I’m going to have a hard time finding good things to say about this film. Let’s start with the plot. In theory, this is an interesting story. Being the archaeology nerd that I am, I loved that the previous owner of the house was an archaeologist. I also loved the references to ancient Egyptian archaeology and artifacts. That being said, there wasn’t really anything else that worked in this plot. At times it just didn’t make sense. While the archaeology and mythology were the only aspects of the plot that I actually liked, the simple fact that the film took place in a rundown house on Lake Eerie made the ancient Egyptian evil seem very out of place. The last 10 minutes of the film left me wondering what just happened. I won’t give it away for those brave enough to watch the film, but I was scratching my head after those last 10 minutes, asking my most hated question – why?

In terms of effects, there really weren’t many in Lake Eerie. This was a smart move by the filmmakers considering they likely had a small budget to work with. Unfortunately that meant the “creatures” that are haunting Kate’s home looked a bit lackluster. They mostly just looked like regular people in weird clothes with the kind of contacts you can buy at a Halloween store. In a similar tone that showed a lack of effort, there was an alternate world that we see where these creatures come from. The world is essentially just the house Kate lives in without the furniture and with a lot of red light.

The dialogue combined with the acting was probably what made this film the most difficult to watch. Listening to the choppy dialogue felt so rudimentary while also failing to sound like what people would say in real life. In one scene Kate gets scared by something in the house while she is moving in. A teenage boy that is helping her move doesn’t believe there was anything to be scared of says “typical woman, afraid of her own shadow.” Not only is it completely unbelievable to me that a teenage boy would say that to a hot older woman, but he especially wouldn’t say it to a hot older woman who is paying him for a job.

Now this brings me to the acting. I hate to say it, but this is one of the worst acted films I have seen in a very long time, if not ever. Meredith Majors (The Neighbor) was cringeworthy as the lead, Kate. Majors sounded so monotone throughout the entire film. She failed to properly convey any kind of emotion, whether it be sadness, fear, or happiness. There were times where she was supposed to be screaming in fear, but it sounds more like she is simply saying “ahhhhhhh.” In a similar situation she turns away from the camera when she is supposed to be crying because she is unable to produce tears. This inability to act can be seen in virtually every actor with a role in this film. There is a bright side though (possibly the only bright side). The two saving graces of this film came in the form of Betsy Baker (The Evil Dead) and Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead). If these two horror legends weren’t in the film, I probably wouldn’t have made it through to the end. While their roles are relatively small, they both command the screen when they are on. Both Baker and Henriksen manage to push past the horrible writing and show how great their acting abilities really are.

There were many more bad things about this film than there were good. I think the root of the problem is that this film was made by a married couple, who chose to spread themselves thin by doing many jobs poorly, rather than focusing on one job and doing it very well. Meredith Majors wrote and starred in the film, while her husband Chris Majors directed the film and also acted in it. The result was a film with poor dialogue, lots of cringeworthy acting, and a story that just didn’t make much sense. If it wasn’t for Baker and Henriksen, this film would be unwatchable, and they are really the only aspect of the film keeping me from giving the film a 0/10 (I know it may seem harsh, but I have to be honest in my reviews).