Released: 8th February 2018 (Australia)
Seen: 5th February 2018 (Advance Screening)
Directed by: Adam Robitel
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Produced by: Blumhouse Productions, Entertainment One, LStar Capital & Stage 6 Films
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo
I’m going to be plainly honest, I was not looking forward to this one. Sequels to horror films are usually not that good but especially when you get to the 4th one they start losing so much of their appeal. You either end up with a franchise that wants to die, or you end up in space. You very rarely see a series where the 4th movie is anything of note, indeed it’s often pretty painful. Luckily this wasn’t that painful but it also won’t be that memorable. If there was ever a point to end the franchise on, this is that point.
In this films praise is that Lin Shaye is incredible, she keeps finding new places to take this character and has such a warmth to her that you root for her from the instant she shows up on screen. It’s an amazing performance and I feel like, at this point, we should be dubbing Lin Shaye as one of the great horror heroine icons because she has earned that title. There is also a lot of great work in terms of tension building, the tightening of the screws is meticulous for so much of the film that when they do use those jump scares, they actually get the desired effect because you’ve been pushed right to the edge of your seat and visualised a dozen nasty ways that a certain scene could go only to be blindsided by a demon popping up when you didn’t expect it. I also liked that we got some quality backstory for Elise, we spend the majority of the film in her childhood home and it’s fascinating to witness what happened to her as a child that would lead to her becoming the woman that she is today.
The problem is that, very clearly, they did not have a complete idea for a fourth part. Indeed, it feels like there are 3 very different movies that got stitched together. The story of Elise’s childhood, the story of Ted Garza (Played by Kirk Acevedo) and the story of Keyface (Played by Javier Botet). No, I did not make that name up, the big demon of this movie is called Keyface. It’s up there with The Bye Bye Man for ‘stupidest monster name to ever be thought up by a professional writer’. These three stories are poorly interwoven and have such jarringly different tones that it does throw you off, not in a good way either. The script is just not well done. Leigh Whannel has written some really great horror scripts before but this one felt like it wasn’t given enough work (He has another film coming out later this year called Upgrade, I have an inkling that maybe his attention was more on that than on this 4th movie in the cash cow franchise). There’s also some very cringy moments written in specifically to make his character have the cooler moments, or at least that’s how it feels and looks when you have your writer play the character who saves several main characters and have the strong romantic subplot. Just saying, it’s kind of on the nose.
What helped really elevate my experience with the film was that the cinema I went to actually got someone to dress up like the Lipstick Face demon from the other films (Man, the Insidious films have stupid demon names) and scare people as they came in. Just a little note to cinemas, that’s how you get people to enjoy mediocre films. I might never watch this film again, but this was one hell of a fun movie-going experience largely because the crowd was put in the right mood right from the beginning.
While this film will not be winning any awards anytime soon, indeed it’ll probably be forgotten by March, it’s a fun enough ride that can provide a good jump for those who are looking for it and if you switch your brain off you’ll have a good time… and if you’re lucky enough to see it with the right crowd who will laugh and scream at the movie with you, you’ll have a great time even if you might never see the movie again.
Seriously, guys, the franchise is done now. Might want to stop before it goes from “OK” to just plain sad.