It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since the first Insidious movie was released, and even more surprising is the consistency of the sequels that followed, releasing almost every two years since. In the fourth film, we learn the history of Elise Rainier (yes, even more history than we learned in Insidious: Chapter 3), but more importantly we discover the events leading up to the beginning of the first film. I know Insidious: Chapter 3 did a good job of bringing the story full circle, explaining how certain things came to be and why they had to end up as they did, but for some reason the filmmakers decided we needed even more backstory. I think it goes without saying, but if you haven’t seen the first three movies I recommend not reading any further as there are sure to be references to previous films during the course of this review, and many spoilers contained within. I will do my best not to spoil this movie, however, but I make no promises about not revealing information from previous movies. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
Before even seeing the movie itself, one concern I had was while watching the many trailers leading up to it. I noticed they revealed quite a lot of jump scares which would have otherwise been scary. This had me worried that they were revealing too much, and that the scariest parts of the movie would now be spoiled. Unfortunately, I was correct in my concerns. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know which parts I am talking about, and if not, then you have the luxury of watching the movie from an unspoiled perspective, and I’m jealous. The remaining “scares” are few and far between, and only make me question why they would spoil them in the trailers. Not only that, but they give away the creature with the five keys for fingers in the trailers – a creature not immediately revealed in the movie – but then confusingly try to tease the audience of its presence. We know what it looks like; we know it has keys for fingers and a messed up looking face; we know it can turn off someone’s voice. Why bother teasing us with information we already know from the trailers? Speaking of the creature, we all know it has five keys instead of five fingers, but we also learn that it haunts Elise’s childhood home in Five Keys, New Mexico. Do you know why that’s important? It isn’t. It’s a stupid, purposeful coincidence that is not referenced or explained in any way in the film.
Elise grew up on a house that was literally right next to a prison. It was so close to the prison that before even getting to the driveway you had to go through a guarded door. This resulted in the occasional power flicker whenever someone was being executed with an electric chair. Couple this with Elise’s psychic abilities, and you can imagine the kind of childhood she had. This was not made any easier by her alcoholic, abusive father, who punished Elise for talking about her gift. Fast-forward to the present, and the tenant of her childhood home has called her and claiming the house is haunted (yeah, no shit). The remainder of the film takes place after the events of Insidious 3 but before the first Insidious, but if you’ve seen the original then I guess you would already assume it takes place before then.
Something I find interesting is how they have a character who died in the first movie still present in all of the sequels – and be the star of 2 of those sequels. While Elise is an interesting character, one major flaw this formula presents is the knowledge that she and her two helper guys are never in any real danger, because we know they’re all still alive in the first movie. Therefore, while the scenes they’re in can be scary, they can only be scary to a certain extent, because we know they will be fine. In the opening scene, we are given a glimpse into her childhood, revealing what it was like growing up with an abusive father and being a child psychic. While horrible in its own right, this had me worried that the movie was going to be more of a drama than a horror movie, focusing on Elise’s relationships instead of being scary. It turns out I was almost right.
I will admit the movie dad have some intense scenes, but as I stated before, most of them were spoiled in the trailers. The remainder of the movie is filled with so many subplots and so much backstory and just way too much going on to really keep track of the main issue – the key monster. Between Elise’s horrible childhood, and ghost women who might not be ghost women (but are probably ghost women), and the key monster, and Elise dealing with an estranged relationship with her brother, and a crazy tenant, and her niece with the same ability as Josh from the first movie, and the weird prison thing in the further, the focus of this simply being a horror movie just gets lost somewhere along the way. With some odd references to the first movie thrown in along the way, it’s like they were trying to make this as in-cohesive of a story as possible, and it’s why this is by far the least scary of the Insidious movies.
In the end, this is not a Friday night horror movie to watch with friends, or even Halloween horror marathon material. I can’t picture a scenario where someone would want to watch this movie over the original. There’s just so much to keep up with and it relies so heavily on material from the previous movies, it doesn’t quite hold its own as a standalone horror movie. I honestly recommend refreshing your memory by watching the first 3 films before watching this one, if only to keep up with the story.
This movie is…
I made the mistake of expecting more from this. Don’t be like me.
Cheers and goodnight.