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Insidious: The Last Key

At Cinemark

(R)

Grade: D

With a name like “Insidious” moviegoers can’t say they weren’t warned. I’m certain I broke my personal record for the number of times I checked my watch during a movie. Once, only three minutes had elapsed since the last “how-much-longer” check – never has time moved so slowly.

“Insidious” thrives on “jump scares,” those unexpected moments in a film designed to shock us into spilling our carbonated drinks into our unsuspecting lap. I’ll come back to the topic of “jump scares” later. Stick around – it’s worth it.

This fourth installment in the “Insidious” series takes us farther into The Further.

Unlike “Star Trek” this tired sequel takes us places we’ve been too often before – we’re trapped in a groundhog’s day nightmare.

“The Further,” we have learned, is some sort of mystical purgatory where ghosts might live. One fan site dedicated to “Insidious” says The Further is “a place for the tormented souls of the dead.”

If The Further were a neighborhood, we’d want to avoid buying a house there.

Well, as it turns out, The Further does seem attached to certain addresses. Perhaps there’s a portal to The Further inside a wardrobe? That’s not fair to CS Lewis, but that’s the gist.

People who share houses with “Further” are never really alone. Yes, it’s like “Amityville Horror,” only different.

Like prison, The Further does allow some visitors.

“Special” humans – or normal humans with a “special” guide -- can apparently buy round trip tickets to visit The Further, and still get home safely. But some occupants of The Further appear trapped for eternity – and battle boredom by tormenting earthlings.

The original film involved a young boy, Dalton, who went Further into the attic than he should -- and sank Further into a coma. A parapsychic “detective” named Elise is summoned to unlock the door to The Further.

The latest installment is the second prequel to the first two films. The chronological order of the four films is 3,4,1,2. (Hardcore fans seem to care about such things.)

This time investigator Elise (a fine Lin Shaye) takes center stage. We revisit her childhood where her father beats her because Elise claims to be in contact with secret spirits.

Fast forward to 2010 and Elise is living alone, but with nightmares. When the current occupant of Elise’s old house calls to report ghostly noises, Elise and her two idiot spectral assistants (think low-IQ Ghostbusters) go to help.

I’ve already spent too much time on an awful movie. Suffice it to say “Insidious” is boring and filled with terrible dialogue that’s not quite wretched enough to reach cult status. Watching Elise crawl into a storm sewer to open suitcases covered in spider webs was the last silk straw for me.

The child abuse is painful to watch; reason enough to stay away.

Back to “jump scares.”

There’s a website called “Where’s the Jump?” that’s devoted to jump-scare movies. This site has chronicled “every” horror film ever made and counted the jump scares. (Imagine that on a curriculum vitae: “Counted and categorized jump scares.”)

The all-time leader in jump scares is “The Haunting in Connecticut 2,” with 32 jump scares. Close behind is “Extraterrestrial” (not “E.T.”) with 30. Last year’s “It” and “Annabelle” both managed a respectable 23 jump scares.

The site goes further to gauge the “quality” of the jump scares. On that count, only five movies have earned a perfect 5 rating for scary jump scares: “The Haunting in Connecticut 2,” “Insidious,” “Banshee Chapter,” “Conjuring 2” and “Sinister.”

By the way, Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is credited with only 2 jump scares (shower scene, anyone?) and a jump scare quality rating of 0.5. Hitchcock was obviously too cerebral to go for the cheap thrill.

No need to thank me for this new nugget of knowledge. Comes with the job.

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