The reviews are in, and it looks like Insidious: The Last Key is the horror franchise's worst outing yet. There was little chance that the fourquel was ever going to live up to the original, of course, though that wasn't even an especially high bar to clear. The first Insidious, released in 2011, debuted to above average reviews, though it did help launch the career of director James Wan. The filmmaker went on to helm the first two entries in the (far superior) Conjuring series before branching out into the action genre with the smash hit Furious 7. Next up, he'll be behind the camera on the highly-anticipated DCEU film, Aquaman. Still, Wan owes quite a bit to the Insidious franchise, as his previous directorial efforts (Saw and Death Sentence) weren't exactly welcomed with open arms by critics.
The first three Insidious films were met with decidedly mixed reviews, collectively sporting a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. But few film genres are as unaffected by the critical consensus as horror movies, so the trio combined to rake in over $371 million at the box office. And since all three were produced on paltry budgets (on average, they cost Blumhouse Productions less than $6 million apiece), a fourth film was inevitable.
For what it's worth, our own review of the film is relatively positive. But our voice is one of many, and it looks like the vast majority of critics have had enough of this horror franchise. Take a look at The Most Brutal Reviews Of Insidious: The Last Key.
He [director Adam Robitel] is as lost in [Leigh] Whannell’s script as the characters, who traipse around, trapped in their own stupefacient Further of bad acting, puzzling plot twists, and wince-inducing comedic banter ... The end result seems misguided at first glance, but, upon closer examination, doesn’t make a lick of sense. -- AV Club
The Last Key’s most impressive feat is that it manages to be so unnecessarily convoluted while still offering next to nothing in terms of dramatic payoff ... it’s one hour and 47 minutes of cheap jump scares and dull grinding of gears. And that does not a good horror film make. -- Film Journal International
The result is more tedious than frightening. And the comic relief moments offer none. The nerd act of Whannell and Tucker has gotten increasingly tired over the years, and their limp dialogue this time around—combined with their amateurish acting—is very hard to stomach ... By the time it ends you may find yourself nodding in agreement with Elise when she says, "I should never have come back here." -- One Guy's Opinion
Elise hits the road with her two socially-awkward Scooby Doo underlingswho unsuccessfully try to goose the film with some unwelcome and unfunny comic relief. For the record, there’s no mention of who will look after Elise’s dog while she’s away on her poltergeist field trip. She should’ve left her two dim-bulb assistants with him ... Let’s hope “The Last Key” isn’t just the film’s title, but also a promise. -- Entertainment Weekly
The fourth film in the Insidious franchise, directed by Adam Robitel, is lazy and sometimes even loathsome. -- Slant
Lights flicker, flashlights die at inopportune moments, floors creak, and shadowy figures scuttle across the background. But mood is all the film has going for it. The plot devolves into a convoluted tangle of well-worn horror tropes, spooky imagery and awkward family melodrama. A bloated script drags in the middle, piling one underdeveloped thread atop another, including the late-in-the-game addition of Elise’s niece (Caitlin Gerard), who shares her spectral gift — an obvious open door for more sequels. Instead of providing shocks or surprises, these shifts muddy the waters until you can barely tell what’s going on. -- Seattle Times
This is what it looks like when a series has run out of ideas ... Do things pop into frame without warning, accompanied by a blast of strings on the soundtrack? Of course they do. Does a demon make a drawn-out crawl toward a yelling victim? Naturally it does. Is there a strange S&M vibe to the main demon's dungeon of terror? That's not exactly something we expect, but yes, it definitely, oddly, and somewhat uncomfortably does possess that aura. -- Mark Reviews Movies
Given all the strained inhalations on the soundtrack and the general air of choking on fumes, "Insidious: The Last Gasp" might have been a more appropriate title for the fourth and potentially final entry in this lucrative, once-diverting property. -- Los Angeles Times
The most prominent reason Insidious: The Last Key is the first dud in the franchise is its lack of direction. There is an absolutely awful twist around halfway through the film that is quickly swept under the rug (it feels as if Leigh Whannell wrote himself into a corner and just took the easy way out). Soon after that toward the end of the movie, there is yet another swerve, this one far more ridiculous and unbelievable than its predecessor. And by that revelation, it’s difficult to care how any of this ties into the rest of Elise’s life or the first two Insidious movies. Attempting the laziest form of scares possible doesn’t help anything. -- Flickering Myth
The fourth installment of Leigh Whannell's ghost-and-mediums horror series wraps up its own free-association illogic with an impenetrable tangle of woo-woo spirit-world mechanics and lingo ... the nature of the haunting, and director Adam Robitel’s questionable handle on the tone gives the impression of a film that was shot blindly, literally as each page of the script was printed out. -- Vulture