Well, here we are with the first movie review of the new year. It is January, which means we will be getting a bunch of crap dumped in the month. And it always starts off with a horror movie.
This time, it is the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise.
The thing is… this isn’t that bad.
Who’d a thunk it?
Once again, as with the third film, we focus on Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her two goofy ghost hunter buddies (Leigh Whannell, who wrote the film as well, and Angus Sampson) as she returned to her childhood house to deal with the ghosts that tormented her as a little girl, but who is now doing the same stuff to the new guy living in the house.
The film begins with a rather well done flashback sequence to the young Elise (Ava Kolker) who was slowly learning about her psychic abilities in a house full of spirits. However, her abusive father (Josh Stewart) did not want any daughter of his seeing spectres and spooks, so he would beat her with a stick. After one of the nastier of the spirits tricked Elise into opening a door freeing it and killing her mother, Elise was left alone with her little brother Christian and her father. Time passed, but Elise continued seeing spirits and finally could not handle it any longer as she ran away, leaving her brother, and never to return again.
Until now, that is.
Starting with the strengths of the film, Lin Shaye is wonderful. She was a clear standout in the first Insidious film and she has shown the ability to carry it on her own. The last two films have been prequels to the original and direct sequel and have told Elise’s story and Lin really brought i the goods.
There are a lot of jump scares here, but they are not over used and they are actually somewhat effective. The shots are set up well and typically are actual scares that are supposed to be scary. There are few fake out jump scares involved here. In fact, there are some clever uses of them, including one involving some suitcases.
I also thought the design of the monster was very solid and very creepy with the keys-for-fingers motif on display.
There is a side plot involving Elise’s brother Christian (Bruce Davison) and his remarkably attractive daughters that feels okay, though perhaps somewhat tacked on. The two actresses (Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke) stood out on screen, though we do not get a lot with either.
I could have used less of the two Ghost Hunters because most of the comedic aspects of these two did not work very well. They had a creepy connection to Christian’s daughters and, if I were Christian, I would be getting ready to kick some Ghostbuster ass.
There is also not a whole lot that would be new or original here. This film fits very easily in with the other Insidious franchise films without making anything much different. That familiarity is both a positive and a negative.
I did like how this film wound up circling back around to the beginning of the original movie and showed us where it actually fit in the timeline. This film is decent, especially when comparing it to other year horror movies released in January. I was surprised.