You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who loves a good horror movie as much as me. When it comes to my favorite genre, I’m more than willing to slog through any old dreck I find, so long as there’s even a chance of it being worth my time.
I have, for instance, seen just about every Blumhouse film there is. And while most have been among the very best the genre has to offer in the last decade, it has had its share of misfires. From the promising Gallows to the maddeningly awful Visit, even Blumhouse isn’t beyond reproach.
Despite their widespread success, I’ve never quite been won over by the Insidious movies. Although they offered a relatively novel twist on possession thrillers — where poltergeists haunt people rather than locations or objects — the first movie was never able to rise above the tired genre conventions that filled its runtime.
Despite this, I went to see the second one in theaters — mostly because I was dragged there — and was pleasantly surprised y the result. While not fundamentally any different from the first, it executed an entirely separate, and equally novel, premise with a lot more panache than the original film. In a wibbly-wobbly turn of events, the ghost dimension that the cast must travel through is evidently removed from the normal flow of time: allowing past and present to intermingle and for characters to interact with their past selves from the previous movie.
I’ve never seen a horror movie tackle time travel in this way before, and certainly not while still contextualized as a possession film. Not only did it provide the filmmakers plenty of temporal toys to play around with, it retroactively justified and made interesting all of the pedestrial scares that fell flat the first time around.
But then, shamefully, the third movie offered a rote return to form, and the latest — an upcoming prequel called The Last Key — looks to be more of the same. Sure, the key-fingered ghost looks to be more fun than any of the previous poltergeists to populate these films, but the entirely lackluster trailer looks to be business as usual for a franchise that never really seemed all that interested in living up to its narrative potential.
We see a lot of the same scares and setups from previous movies, with the same-old promise to go even further into the same-old ghost dimension that we’ve seen in the last three releases. The scares are painfully obvious, the ghosts telegraphed long before their arrival and the entire production feeling like exactly what you would expect from a franchise like this.
As if to remove any doubt of the quality of film we’re in for, the film releases in January: historically, the dumping ground for terrible movies that couldn’t find a place at any other point in a studio’s release schedule. They don’t even want to try to compete in October with this apparent mess.
And while it’s true that it doesn’t matter when a movie makes its money back, so long as it does so eventually, this isn’t Deadpool. It isn’t Logan, Hunger Games nor Kingsmen. It doesn’t have the boon of being a Valentine’s Day draw for couples nor a pre-summer release that can take advantage of a more generally open release window. January is still January, which means that the studio doesn’t even have any faith in this one.
Horror nut or not, I think that I’ll pass on this one. If you value your time, I suggest that you do the same.
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