Returning Home to Unroot Evil! “Insidious: The Last Key” review!


Hot off the Quinn Brenner case, parapsychologist Elise Rainier receives a phone call from Ted Garza regarding paranormal activity at his house in Four Keys, New Mexico. The location happens to be the childhood home of Elise, where her father viciously abused Elise to stop her supernatural gifts and also where her mother was brutally murdered by a fearsome and hatred-energized demon known as KeyFace. Reluctant to return where memories revel in persistent and continuous nightmares, Elise and her two eager assistances, Tucker and Specs, take the case to aid the Garza’s request for a cleanse and to conclude the haunting and scarring chapter in Elise’s life, but the demon yearns power by luring Elise back to where it all began. With the help of her brother and two nieces, Elise’s family and friends aim to be a force against pure and undiluted evil hidden in the further.

Full disclosure….Insidious: Chapters 2 and 3 is not in my well versed cache of watched movies. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmospheric hit that is James Wan’s 2011 “Insidious” film starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and the incredible Lin Shaye, but since that time, neither of the sequels have wandered into my unsystematic path. Except now. “Insidious: The Last Key” is the latest installment to the “Insidious” franchise and universe that’s directed by Adam Robitel, screenwriter of “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” and written by franchise writer Leigh Whannell. In the grand scheme of chronological viewing, catching “The Last Key” first won’t divert and confuse too much from those on a methodical storyline timeline. Robitel’s chapter is a sequel to the prequel, “Insidious: Chapter 3,” and aside from an Easter egg here and there, there’s little reference and nothing substantial bonding to the next two films that are in sequential order.

Lin Shaye returns to reprise her role as parapsychologist Elise Rainier for the fourth time, picking up her character’s telepathic shtick like it was yesterday. Shaye’s one of acting talents that just flourishes like wild fire no matter what the type of role or movie she’s in or even affiliated with. Her ability to adapt and to get down and dirty with her characters proves why we love her thespian range from bust-a-gut comedies like “There’s Something About Mary” to indie horrors like “Dead End.” The now 74-year-old actress is more red hot now than ever as Elise Rainier whose even more popularized by her co-stars, writer, Leigh Whannell and and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker, whom like Shaye have reprised their roles for a fourth time. The comedic duo lighten up the dark toned premise, offering up dad jokes and snickering hairdos to offset to jump scares and gnarly KeyFace. Spencer Locke (“Resident Evil: Extinction”), Caitlin Gerard (“Smiley”), and the original 1971 Willard, Bruce Davison, play the supporting cast of Rainiers long lost, reunited family members caught in the middle of her quest for conclusion. Rounding out the cast is Kirk Acevedo (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), Tessa Ferrer, Josh Stewart (“The Collector”), and contortionist, and Doug Jones’ Spanish rival, Javier Botet as KeyFace.

“Insidious: The Last Key” works on many positive levels: has a solid premise with Elise burning to finish the nightmare she had unleashed many years ago, subplots involving Ted Garza’s role and Elise’s abusive father, a dysfunctional family relationship between all the Rainiers, and some serious eye-popping scares throughout. The further also opens up more and becomes a vast area for exploration into all the creatures, ghosts, and demons that lurk in the otherworldly dimension, setting up future sequels and/or spinoffs. What doesn’t work as well is the rather anemic and lackluster climatic finale that took KeyFace from an extremely high frightfully monstrous pedastal, continuously building up the character to be the most powerful antagonist Elise has yet to encounter, and have the rug pulled right from under it’s horrid feet by squandering it formidability, flattening it with the single uppercut swing of a… lantern.

Adam Robitel’s “Insidious: The Last Key” finds a home on a Blu-ray plus Digital HD combo release by Sony Pictures and Universal Home Entertainment. The release is presented in high definition 1080p with a widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The image quality just tops out with overly spooky cool blue hue that’s gloomy, dark, and ominous, all the attributes perfect for a supernatural thriller, while managing to sharply define the details on the actors and their surroundings. The English 5.1 DTS-HD track stings where jump scares are prevalent and appropriate. Dialogue has clarity with mild ambiance supporting the localized and conventional horror audible moments while brawny LFE bursts on-screen in a bombardment of scare tactics whenever KeyFace suddenly shows face. Bonus features include an alternate ending (complete with cheesy one-liner from Lin Shaye), eight deleted scenes, a look into the “Insidious” universe, going into The Further, Lin Shaye becoming parapsychologist Elise Rainier, and a segment entitled “Meet the New Demon – Unlocking the Keys” to KeyFace. Perhaps not the epitome of the franchise, but “Insidious: The Last Key” absolutely fits into the franchise’s ever expanding universe and unlocks more of the spine-tingling backstory to one of horror’s contemporary and unremitting heroines ready to confront evil.

“Insidious: The Last Key” purchase at Amazon!

Evil Rollerblades Over Your Neck! “Murderdrome” review!


Cherry Skye and her all girl roller derby team, The Alamos, find themselves gravely threatened by a summoned vengeful demon named Mamma Skate, the best and brutalist skater from the MurderDrome rink 20 years ago who was viciously murdered ritualistically by a Satanic-obsessed rival. Called back from Hell by a mystical charm necklace once in her possession, Mamma Skate rollerblades through the night, cleaving her way through the roughest of roller derby girls, and seeking to possess the soul of charm’s current owner, Cherry Skye, so she may live once again!
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In 2013, Australian director Daniel Armstrong had a vision. A vision that includes skimpy-cladded, brazenly jagged roller derby girls, a resurrected she-demon wielding a butcher’s cleaver, and a helluva lot of rock-n-roll! A joint effort between Strongman Pictures and a slow drip of miscellaneous funding constructs that very exact vision, originally not conceived to have been a feature length film. Writing along side Trent Schwarz and Louise Monnington, who also had a co-starring role, Armstrong’s rockabilly ozploitation is a blood diamond in the Australian under bush with kangaroo pouches full of ocker comedy and skater mayhem. However, Armstrong’s terrorizing roller-demon imagery sat on the edge of being nonexistent and his film suffers the associated consequences of financial hardships and production problems. “MurderDrome” has a vibe more akin to a music video with interjections of storyline in between various psychobilly laid tracks that’s perhaps a pure result of the film’s financial inability to fill the void, but the style’s unique outline contends strongly in independent or abstract cinema outlets. Aside from the atypical structure, “MurderDrome,” granted, has some sloppy and choppy editing that disrupt not only the opening credits, but also waters down a death scene or two and affects character motivations.
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Australian accents are thick coming from an indigenous talent of actors led by Amber Sajben, a downright heaven-sent leading lady starring as Cherry Skye. With her cutesy pig tails, high-knee fish stockings, and an acute fascination with always popping bits of food in her mouth, her contrast with the dialogue-stricken antagonist and steel, chain, and blade attired roller-demon badass Momma Skate, portrayed by Be-On The-Rocks (Yes, you read that right), redefines the old phrase a game of cat-and-mouse that doesn’t quite fit the overall artistic style. When a group of rough and tough roller derby girls who elbow check others for the fun of the sport, some fight should commence without being said; instead, the characters who proudly carry the names Cherry Skye, Psych, Thrusty, Trans Em, Princess Bitchface, and Hell Grazer option to scurry without giving a second thought to bucking up to a sole skating murderess. Armstrong subsides more toward a comedy route peppered with a resilience attitude toward the situation with co-writer Louise Monnington leading the charge in her character’s crude humor, especially having Pysch, her character, note descriptively what exactly is ‘duck butter.’ Urban Dictionary has you covered if you care to look up the term. The cast rounds out with Kat Anderson, Rachael Blackwood, Jake Brown, Anthony Cincotta, Gerry Mahoney, Max Marchione, Daisy Mastermann, Dayna Seville, and Laura Soall.
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Plot integrity is flimsy at best striking influentially at the development of certain characters, most importantly with villain Momma Skate. Her conjuring doesn’t go through the comprehensive ringer as the demoness just appears without establishing a connection with the charm necklace bringing her demonic lankiness above ground. Max Marchione’s The Janitor bares some importance that whizzes like air out of a rapidly deflating balloon as we learn less-by-less about this character throughout the duration of the film. The Janitor’s key mentoring role wavers, resulting in just one more confusion aspect into the blend. Remaining character developments are fairly cut and dry sans forgetting their eclectic attire, electrifying neon makeup, radical hairstyles, and overall lifestyles, but expansions upon the roles could have been more favorable for the Aussie production.
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Camp Motion Pictures and Alternative Cinema skate the “MurderDrome” DVD right onto the North American market rink, providing the film’s first region one release. Extras are abundant with music videos from The Dark Shadows and other bands, a gag-reel, and a behind-the-scenes special effects featurette. The 72-minute feature is presented in a widescreen 16×9 aspect ratio that’s a bit hazy at times on the grayscale, but adds charm to the bargain bin brimstone fire and smoke computerized effects that truly defines Armstrong’s slasher as a campy ozploitation with Italian Giallo undertones and a supernatural core. “MurderDrome” rocks, literally, with great pyschobilly tracks from The Jacks, The Sin & Tonics, and The Dark Shadows to name a few of the head banging headliners on the soundtrack in the confines of a cavity heavy plot for a film more suitable as a music video than a feature flick. In the end, “MurderDrome” provides an endearing look upon horror even with all the obvious flaws, but renders some nice moments of searing barbarity overshadowing, just slightly, some of the misfires. Lastly, if you like girls in skates, who never take them off at any point, then “MurderDrome” is right for you!
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Buy “MurderDrome” on DVD at Amazon!