‘BlacKkKlansman’ Producer Jason Blum on Why This Oscar Nomination ‘Feels More Fun’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

For Jason Blum, the Best Picture-nominated “BlacKkKlansman” marks the third project of his that has been nominated for an Academy Award. But this one, he says, feels different.

“It feels more fun because I can actually enjoy it and not be so nervous about it,” Blum told TheWrap. “I’ve been through it before. With awards season, you don’t know what events you have to go to, what’s good, what’s bad — it’s just been much, much easier this time around and I’ve been able to enjoy it more.”

In total, Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Director.

Also Read: ‘Halloween’ Producer Jason Blum Is Down for a Sequel: ‘We’re Dying to’ Make One

“When the movie screened at Cannes, there were conversations that it merited Academy attention, and we felt it merited attention but I was happily surprised by the Best Picture nomination, and prouder still of Spike’s nomination,” Blum said. “He’s never been nominated before, so that’s the best single thing about my experience with ‘BlacKkKlansman.’”

One of the categories the film is also nominated in is Film Editing — one of the categories the Academy recently decided to announce during the commercial break instead of announcing it during the broadcast. The decision was mostly met with criticism, with the condemnation stretching from Oscar watchers to past Oscar winners Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki. But Blum has a different point of view on the matter.

“I think the show can’t be three hours — everyone agrees,” he explained. “The first Academy Awards had just eight categories. I commend John and the Board of Governors for the choices they make. Someone has to make a leadership choice — ratings are going down and they have to make it a show for consumers. It’s not going to make everyone happy but they have to rein in the length of the show. It’s a compromise. Everyone is outraged about the decision but at the same time, everyone says the show is so boring and so long. You have to address that. The Academy Awards are so important because they push a business about money to being a little bit less about money. The only way to do that is to be seen and make the show that much better. And that’s one of the hardest choices.”

The upcoming awards show isn’t the only thing on Blum’s schedule. In fact, he has 17 upcoming projects that have been announced. There’s also “Happy Death Day 2U,” which just hit theaters this week, and the TV series “Into the Dark” which is premiering on Thursday.

He will next serve as a producer on Jordan Peele’s “Us,” Tate Taylor’s “Ma,” Jeff Wadlow’s “Fantasy Island” and Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man.” And Blum has worked with Peele previously, on last year’s “Get Out” and this year’s “BlacKkKlansman” — and he doesn’t see that relationship ending anytime soon.

Also Read: Jason Blum Admits Defeat, Says ‘It’ ‘Eviscerated’ His ‘Paranormal Activity’ Box Office Record

When asked whether he says yes to any project Peele pitches, Blum said, “Totally! Especially if it’s scary. [In terms of ‘Us’] I thought it was great that he wanted to do another scary movie. If he comes to us, we’ll say yes!”

And Blumhouse Productions, which Blum founded in 2000 and is behind films like “The Purge” and “Insidious” franchises,” has a Rolodex of actors, directors and partners it consistently wants to work with. Peele is just one example — Blumhouse has worked with Lucy Hale, Whannell, Christopher Landon and M. Night Shyamalan on multiple projects.

“We always go back to the people we worked with before — we definitely have a shorthand,” he said. “‘Happy Death Day 2U’ is Chris Landon and I’s seventh movie, and I’m proud of that — it shows that people like the experience with the company, and that was part of my goal for Blumhouse Productions.”

Still on his dream list of people to work with: “Nightingale” director Jennifer Kent, Edgar Wright and Ben Stiller as a director.

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Universal’s ‘The Invisible Man’ Reboot Lands New Director, Johnny Depp No Longer to Star

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Johnny Depp will no longer appear in Universal’s reboot of “The Invisible Man,” a source tells TheWrap.

Leigh Whannell, the director of “Insidious: Chapter 3” and “Upgrade,” has signed on to direct the remake of “The Invisible Man,” which Universal Pictures is developing based on the classic monster movie character, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap.

Whannell will also produce alongside Jason Blum for his Universal-based Blumhouse Productions.

Also Read: Universal Landed a Wide Range of Hits, From ‘Jurassic World’ to ‘Halloween’

Depp had originally joined the project back in February 2016 as part of Universal’s planned Dark Universe based on its classic monster movie characters. The franchise kicked off with Tom Cruise in “The Mummy” and was also meant to star Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as planned movies for “Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man” and others.

And that plan for a shared universe is no more. However, Universal plans to still make projects based on these characters and the Universal monsters’ legacy.

These films will also be rooted in horror and will carry no budget, genre or rating restrictions, with no expectation for the films to be part of a shared universe.

Also Read: ‘Halloween’ Producer Jason Blum Is Down for a Sequel: ‘We’re Dying to’ Make One

Whannell recently collaborated with Blumhouse on hit films including “Insidious: The Last Key” and “Upgrade.” Whannell is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency, managers Stacey Testro and Katie Ybarra from STI, and Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP

Variety was first to report news of Whannell’s hiring.

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‘Upgrade’ Film Review: Logan Marshall-Green Battles Bad Guys in A.I. Revenge Thriller

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you were casting a vote for Most Likely to Become an Electronic Killing Machine, Logan Marshall-Green (“Prometheus”) might not be the person you think of first. Low key, lanky, and fairly unassuming, he seems too chill to fit the bill.

And indeed, when we first meet him in “Upgrade,” the latest from writer-director Leigh Whannell (“Saw,” “Insidious”), Marshall-Green’s character, a mechanic named Grey, is content to stay home and refurbish vintage cars for a living while his tech industry wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) brings home the big money that affords them a futuristic smart-manor with elegantly glowing, talking walls that coolly remind them what groceries they need.

It’s the near future, one in which driverless cars are standard issue Lyfts and artificial intelligence permeates daily life. Grey, though, is more or less off the grid. Covered in engine grease, his analog cred is his calling card. So when billionaire weirdo tech-twink Eron (Harrison Gilbertson, Amazon’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock”) summons him for a consultation at an extravagantly minimalist underground lair, Grey brings Eron fan Asha along for the ride. Strange conversations about the future of A.I. ensue, and on their way home a car accident leads to a violent encounter with masked criminals who murder Asha and leave Grey paralyzed.

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Living in frustrated isolation and grief, cared for by his mother (Linda Cropper, “The Leftovers”), Grey wants out of the house, possibly out of life itself. That’s when creepy, hovering Eron re-enters the picture, promising a surgically implanted A.I. device that will bring Grey’s body back to full function. The catch: Grey’s recovery must remain secret, for reasons that constitute spoilers. Eron’s clearly disturbed personality may be rivaled only by the mad scientist in “The Human Centipede,” but Grey is ready to endure anything that will allow him to hunt down the mystery men who murdered his wife.

Once Grey receives the cockroach-shaped device known as STEM, he’s back in action and performing wildly robotic martial-arts moves, extra crunchy face kicks, and death blows. Bad guys are on notice, as is patient-yet-suspicious detective Cortez (Betty Gabriel, “Get Out”), who keeps wondering why the still-officially-quadriplegic Grey is always caught on drone cameras at the sites of gruesome slaughter.

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If it all sounds a little familiar and reductive, like an electronically enhanced “Death Wish,” that’s only because the film’s silly secrets and brutal set pieces are an integral part of the plot mix and can’t be revealed. If anything, the Australian-born Whannell is most fully in debt to his own country’s “Ozploitation” wave of the 1970s, where goofy, freewheeling, low-budget genre films upped the stakes with extreme action, sex, violence, and a general freedom from restraint.

Comedic death splatters the screen here, as STEM instructs Grey — intentionally soothing and vaguely sinister with its HAL9000 voice — to give up control of his own body and let science help him stomp the life out of his enemies. The shattered bones, punctured necks and viscera spray are frequently as witty as they are shocking, and they’re juxtaposed disorientingly against a cool, ambient blue, emotionless production design and art direction that fully and happily appropriates the chilliest auras of David Cronenberg.

Living spaces are sleekly rich or grimy death hovels, bodies are enhanced docking stations for machinery or broken-down social outcasts waiting to die. It’s a sleek, biomechanical future of desperate unhappiness where nobody gets out alive.

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The actors here are capable and game for all of it, but Whannell doesn’t seem to care about that. There’s a whispery air of commentary on the probable negative social outcomes of widespread artificial intelligence, but that’s all it is, a noncommittal atmosphere. What Whannell wants most to do is torment and eventually pulverize most of the people in his narrative orbit and make you laugh while he does so.

Whannell seems never to have met an impossible and hilariously awful situation he didn’t like, whether it’s an imprisoned “Saw” victim with the key to the death chamber embedded behind his eye — sorry, dude, you have to gouge it out yourself with this plastic spork if you want to survive — or an A.I. central nervous system that traps its host and acts out autonomously with increasingly sadism.

He’s a gleefully menacing auteur who’s out to gross you out, his world one where humans are made to be broken, re-purposed, or discarded, their gurgling death rattles the punch line. In this case, the joke is about technology changing the world while not changing a thing, and it lives inside his universe’s ongoing gag, the one about moral righteousness being nice and whatever, but check out how cool it looks when that one guy’s face gets totally sliced off.

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‘Upgrade’ Helmer Leigh Whannell: “Computers Being Part Of Our Bodies Is Right Around The Corner” – SXSW

Read on: Deadline.

“I just had an idea about a computer that was controlling a human, puppeteering them but the human was still in there and was involuntarily having to do these things,” shared Upgrade‘s writer and director Leigh Whannell during his stop at the Deadline Studio at SXSW. Ahead of its June 1 theatrical release, the Blumhouse thriller screened at the annual Austin-based confab.
The pic follows Grey Trace, a technophobe in a utopian near-future when computers control nearly…

Jason Blum, Vera Miao And Horror Filmmakers Talk The Influence Of Identity In Their Films At SXSW

Read on: Deadline.

“The Bleeding Edge: A New Generation of Horror” panel at SXSW started off with a loaded question from Stage13’s Two Sentence Horror Stories filmmaker Vera Miao: “How does your identity shape how you are as a horror filmmaker?” Genre mega-producer Jason Blum immediately answered in a joking tone, “That’s a racist question!” But the thing is, he’s kind of right.
Miao, a female and first-generation Asian American, gets asked the question all the time so she decided to ask…

‘Insidious’ Co-Creator Leigh Whannell Explains That Big Callback to the First Movie in ‘The Last Key’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

(Major spoilers ahead for “Insidious: The Last Key”)

After four “Insidious” movies, we’ve gone in kind of a circle. The third and fourth films take place before the original — and now the final scene of “The Last Key” brings us right up against that first movie, as Elise (Lin Shaye) receives the fateful phone call that will bring her to help the Lambert family deal with the demonic forces attempting to possess young Dalton’s body.

But that’s not the only reference to the first “Insidious” movie in “The Last Key” — an earlier callback would seem to indicate that the events of this fourth movie actually spurred the plot of “Insidious” into motion.

The big moment comes late in the film, when Elise and her niece Imogen (Caitlin Gerard) are rescuing Imogen’s sister Melissa (Spencer Locke) from the spiritual realm known as the Further. As the trio are attempting to flee the portion of that plane ruled by the “The Last Key” villain Keyface, they enter a red door and find Dalton on the other side, in his bedroom. Not knowing who Dalton was or the significance of the red door, they continue on and successfully save Melissa.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Insidious’ Before Watching ‘Insidious: The Last Key’

The story in “The Last Key” involves Keyface attempting to harness Elise’s ability to interact with the spirit world in order to gain access to “all the red doors.” Keyface doesn’t succeed, of course, as it’s destroyed by Elise and Imogen at the climax of the movie. But all is perhaps not well, because of that red door they walk through at the end.

I interpreted that moment, when Elise and her nieces encounter Dalton in the Further, to mean that she inadvertently opened the door, literally and metaphorically, for the demons to go after Dalton and generally cause chaos for the Lambert family. Leigh Whannell, the co-creator of the “Insidious” series and writer of all four films, said when I asked him that I was right to read it that way.

“I thought it would be interesting to play upon the idea that Elise herself had some hand in that first film by opening doors and running through,” Whannell said, before elaborating further on what exactly the red doors actually are.

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“The doors to me are like literal representations of a metaphysical idea, which is doors between different planes of existence. So we have this plane in this room [referring to the room in which our interview was being held] sitting here on this couch, but then all the other things that have ever happened in this room are kind of overlayed — we just can’t see them. So I see the red doors as sort of opening a door between those two, where things from those other planes can come in.”

The crucial bit of lore added by “The Last Key” being, then, that the doors can’t just be opened by any person or demon — they have to be unlocked somehow, and Elise seems to be able to do just that, ushering in the various demons from the first film when she used that ability.

Whannell explained also that this was a new wrinkle added in “The Last Key,” rather than a reveal they’d been building toward since that original movie.

“It wasn’t something we planned on in the first film,” Whannell said. “In the subsequent writing of the sequels, I’ve had fun playing with this idea of what the Further is and what the red doors represent.”

But if you’re looking for insight into what this new development may mean for the future of the “Insidious” series, you’re going to be stuck speculating for a while, because Whannell hasn’t yet sketched out how this addition series lore will play into future installments.

“I feel like my life would maybe be a lot easier if I pre-planned all this stuff,” Whannell said, “but I never know what I’m gonna do until I get there. I don’t really sit down and think about it until the clock has started ticking on the job.”

And since that clock hasn’t yet started ticking, your guess about where the series will go from here is as good as anyone’s.

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Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

(Note: This post contains spoilers for “Insidious,” “Insidious: Chapter 2” and “Insidious: Chapter 3.”)

The release of the newest movie in the “Insidious” franchise, “Insidious: The Last Key” might be a little bit confusing for viewers who haven’t been paying close attention to the series’ lore and chronology. That’s because while this is the fourth movie to be released, in the timeline of the four movies, it actually takes place second. It’s a sequel to “Insidious: Chapter 3,” but a prequel to the original “Insidious.”

Following the chronology of the “Insidious” movies can be a bit tough thanks to all the flashbacks and prequeling the movies are doing. So here’s a quick rundown of the “Insidious” films’ stories, and everything that happens, in chronological order, as well as an explanation of its ghostly concepts.


First mentioned in “Insidious” and shown in flashbacks in “Insidious: Chapter 2,” 1986 is when Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) first met Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). Elise is a medium who can communicate with spirits and helps people who are the victims of hauntings. When Josh was a child in the 1980s, he had the ability to astral project his spirit out of his body during his dreams. In doing so, Josh visited the Further, the spirit realm where ghosts reside, and he accidentally brought one back with him — a ghost known as the Bride in Black. The ghost was haunting Josh and was trying to take over his body to steal his life, and could only be seen in photographs.

Also Read: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Movie Review: Lin Shaye’s Ghostbuster Battles Some Personal Demons

Elise, who also has the ability to project herself into the Further, forced the Bride to retreat into the Further and saved Josh with the help of her friend, another medium named Carl (Hank Harris). The pair and Josh’s mother, Lorraine, decided to take away Josh’s memories of the Further and astral projection with hypnosis. As a result, Josh stopped projecting because he stopped realizing he was able to.

“Insidious: Chapter 3”

A few years before Elise would help Josh Lambert and his family in “Insidious” (so around 20 years after the flashback above), she had a crisis as a ghost hunter and gave up that work. Ghost hunting was taking a lot of out Elise and she was convinced the work was going to kill her because of all the malevolent spirits she was dealing with.

Meanwhile, a young girl named Quinn Brenner finds herself haunted by the creepy ghost of an old man in an oxygen mask. Her father, Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney), reaches out to Elise for help, and Elise explains how she saw her own death in the Further. After her husband killed himself, Elise went to the Further to find him. But Elise was followed back by the Bride in Black, still angry that Elise foiled her plans back in 1986. Elise could hear the Bride’s threats in her head, and became convinced the Bride really would kill her if she kept up hunting ghosts and visiting the spirit world. This turned out to be prophetic, in fact.

The Brenners hire Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell), a pair of internet ghost hunters who claim to be able to clear hauntings, to try to help Quinn. When the pair encounter a real ghost, they admit to being frauds. Elise eventually finds she can’t ignore Quinn’s plight and returns to help her. She goes to the Further to guide Quinn back from the spirit realm and encounters the Bride, but defeats her — living people are stronger than ghosts, and Elise is able to overpower the Bride and send her retreating into the Further. Elise saves Quinn, and Tucker and Specs wind up becoming her assistants in dealing with hauntings.

Also Read: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Terrorizes Thursday Box Office With $2 Million

“Insidious: The Last Key”

Taking place somewhere between “Insidious: Chapter 3” and “Insidious,” “The Last Key” is all about Elise. This time, she finds the ghosts haunting her own family.


Josh Lambert, now an adult with a family of his own, finds his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has slipped into a coma and can’t be awoken. Doctors can’t find a medical reason for what happened, and meanwhile, the family finds itself experiencing a haunting. Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) remembers what happened to Josh and has an inkling that the same thing is happening to Dalton. She contacts Elise, who reveals that Dalton, like Josh, is able to astrally project himself into the Further, and he’s gotten trapped there. Spirits are trying to use his vacant body to come into the living world, including a creepy red-faced demon.

Elise tells Josh about his past with the Bride in Black, who basically tried to do the same thing to Josh as is being done to Dalton: trap him in the Further and take over his body. With Elise’s help, Josh ventures into the Further to find Dalton and rescue him, dealing with ghosts and spirits along the way. They manage to kick the demon back into the Further and bring Dalton back to his body, but in the final moments of the movie, it’s revealed that the spirit that came back to Josh’s body wasn’t Josh — he’s still in the Further.

Instead, the Bride in Black managed to get into Josh’s body. Now possessed by the Bride, Josh strangles Elise and kills her, fulfilling the Bride’s prophecy of Elise’s death.

Also Read: Why Leigh Whannell Enjoys ‘Seeing People Get Scared’ at Halloween Horror Nights’ ‘Insidious’ Maze

“Insidious: Chapter 2”

Picking up right after the end of “Insidious,” “Chapter 2” finds the Lamberts still haunted. The police investigate Elise’s death, but eventually clear Josh because the fingerprints found around the crime aren’t his. Meanwhile, though, his family is still dealing with hauntings. At Elise’s house, Specs and Tucker discover a video of Elise’s 1986 work in helping young Josh, and on the video see an image of adult Josh.

After talking to Lorraine, Specs and Tucker contact Carl (Steve Coulter) for help. Carl attempts to contact Elise in the Further and gets a clue as to what’s happening. Specs, Tucker and Carl find out that the Bride in Black is actually a serial killer named Parker Crane, who killed himself in the hospital where Lorraine worked. Carl tries to drug Josh, realizing he’s possessed by Crane, so Crane can’t hurt Josh’s family. But Josh overpowers Carl and starts to strangle him.

That tosses Carl into the Further, where he runs into the real Josh, and they head into the Further and find Elise, while visiting a few locations from past movies. Time doesn’t flow the same way in the Further as in the real world, which causes Josh to show up on the 1986 video tape. In the real world, the family hides out in the basement while Josh tries to kill them, and Dalton decides to go to the Further to try to find his dad. Meanwhile, Josh, Carl and Elise go to Crane’s house and find him being abused by his mother, which is the reason he became a killer. Elise defeats Crane’s mother and Dalton shows up to lead Carl and Josh back to the real world.

The Bride in Black is tossed out of Josh’s body, Josh and Carl survive, and Carl hypnotizes Josh and Dalton to make them forget about their astral projection abilities.

The movie ends with Specs and Tucker going out on more ghost-hunting calls, still aided by the ghostly Elise — suggesting that eventually, there could be more “Insidious” stories picking up further in the timeline and that while Elise might have died, she’s definitely not done saving people from hauntings.

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‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Terrorizes Thursday Box Office With $2 Million

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Universal and Blumhouse’s new horror sequel “Insidious: The Last Key” scared up $1.985 million at the Thursday box office when it opened in 2,220 theaters.

In comparison, “Insidious: Chapter 3” earned $1.6 million on a Thursday in 2015, while “Chapter 2” grossed $1.5 million in 2013 previews. In total, the franchise has earned $189 million at the domestic box office.

“Insidious 4” is expected to earn around $20 million on its opening weekend. That’s in line with “3,” which earned $22 million — however, it won’t come close to “2,” which debuted with a spectacular $40 million.

Also Read: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Kicks Off 2018 Box Office With Uphill Battle Against ‘Star Wars’

“Insidious: The Last Key” sees Lin Shaye return as as Dr. Elise Rainer as her haunted childhood comes to threaten her family and home. Series co-creator Leigh Whannell wrote the film, with newcomer Adam Robitel (“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension”) directing.

Currently, the fourth film in the franchise holds a score a score of 20 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also Read: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Movie Review: Lin Shaye’s Ghostbuster Battles Some Personal Demons

Meanwhile, STX will expand Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut “Molly’s Game” from 271 screens to 1,500 this weekend. The film has made $6.9 million since its Christmas Day launch for a per-screen average of just under $24,000, and the film is expected to match that amount this weekend with $6-7 million.

Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner, the film tells the true story of Molly Bloom and how she created the biggest underground poker game in Los Angeles and New York. It scored an A- on CinemaScore and an 82 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the weekend’s top grossers are expected to be Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which crossed the $200 million mark this week, and Disney/Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which has pulled in roughly $550 million domestically.

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Whether or not writer Leigh Whannell, the writer of all four “Insidious” movies, intended it from the get-go, this horror series has become an exploration of the backstory of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who has viewed her gifts for seeing, speaking to and confronting the dead as both a blessing and a curse. (Imagine the “Poltergeist” franchise, if it had been about Tangina, the spiritual housecleaner played unforgettably by Zelda Rubenstein.)

Making the movies all about Elise turned out to be a smart move, since Shaye brings such a depth of feeling and empathy to each film; it’s been said that horror movies are one of the few genres that where female characters consistently get to be active and interesting, and Shaye’s work in the series — including “Insidious: The Last Key,” the fourth and latest outing — has been the main reason to get enthusiastic about each new sequel.

Elise got killed off at the beginning of the first “Insidious,” but the series has managed to keep her alive with prequels and sidequels; “The Last Key” brings the character right up to the events of the first “Insidious,” but that’s not to say that if this one does well, we won’t see more of Shaye in another time-hopping prequel. (Particularly since this chapter gives her a new relative who’s also a poltergeist whisperer.)

Watch Video: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Trailer Is Full of Familiar Scares

This movie is, thankfully, much less interested in myth-building than it is in character development, giving us more of a look at where this woman comes from and how her abilities have shaped her life.

We open in a flashback to 1950s New Mexico, where young Elise (Ava Kolker, “Girl Meets World”) first realizes her gift for talking to the dead via the spirits of the prisoners being executed in the neighboring penitentiary, where her cruel father Gerald (Josh Stewart, “Shooter”) works as a guard.

While he wants Elise to suppress her paranormal activities, her mother, Audrey (Tessa Ferrer, “Grey’s Anatomy”), offers nothing but love and encouragement to Elise and her younger brother Christian (Pierce Pope).

Also Read: Why Leigh Whannell Enjoys ‘Seeing People Get Scared’ at Halloween Horror Nights’ ‘Insidious’ Maze

Tragedy strikes at the hand of a demonic creature who passes between dimensions — much of the “Insidious” saga deals with a purgatory that Elise calls “the Further” — and Elise runs away from home to escape Gerald’s abuse.

But in 2010 (when “The Last Key” is set), she gets a call to return to that house to deal with the evil that still dwells there, and in doing so, she must encounter an embittered Christian (Bruce Davison), from whom she has been estranged for decades.

Whannell doesn’t break much new ground here — he’s written more shtick than usual for himself and Angus Sampson to play as the sidekicks, clearly to keep himself interested — but he and Shaye have created a fascinating character in Elise, and both of them apparently relish the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks in her backstory.

New-to-the-franchise director Adam Robitel (“The Taking of Deborah Logan”) and returning editor Timothy Alverson have fun with the mechanics of the PG-13 jump-scare; there’s one show-stopping scene in particular in which they make you wait for it, and wait for it, and it’s all the more satisfying when it finally comes.

Also Read: Universal Crosses $5 Billion at Worldwide Box Office With Hit Sequels and Blumhouse Horror

The scares here are mild and kid-friendly, and there’s virtually no gore. Whannell’s screenplay touches on the idea of humanity being as monstrous as anything that goes bump in the night, but ultimately the worst things that men do here are blamed on supernatural forces beyond their understanding or control. It plays as a bit of a cop-out in a film that otherwise makes some interesting points about the power of love and family in a cold and chaotic universe.

Hardcore horror audiences won’t find much that’s frightening in “Insidious: The Last Key” — there’s not even that wonderfully unsettling shriek of violins under the title this time — but as a delivery system for more great work from Lin Shaye, it more than accomplishes its mission.

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CineAsia: Sony Applies Haptic Technology to ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Read on: Variety.

Touch and feel technology will allow creepy sensations to invade viewers’ bodies when they are watching “Insidious: The Last Key.” The film is the first feature from Sony to use haptic technology for its full duration. The Interaction Technology version of the film will be unveiled first for attendees of the CineAsia exhibitors’ and distributors’ […]

Why Leigh Whannell Enjoys ‘Seeing People Get Scared’ at Halloween Horror Nights’ ‘Insidious’ Maze

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Even one of the most talented screenwriters in horror gets scared by his own product sometimes, especially when it is brought to life by the geniuses at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.

“Insidious” writer and “Saw” franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell (above with wife, actress Corbett Luck) recently walked through the latest maze at the Hollywood theme park’s annual living, breathing, three-dimensional world of terror — and while he lived to tell the tale, he didn’t emerge completely unscathed.

But Whannell was not half as disturbed as the thousands of other screaming guests getting leapt on by the Red-Faced Demon or stalked by the Long Haired Fiend from the franchise he brought to life with director James Wan.

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“The designers are such geniuses and have so much passion,” Whannell  told TheWrap of the maze creators. “They are so detail-oriented and the ‘Saw’ mazes especially are very high tech. I really do enjoy seeing people get scared.

“The biggest moment that gave me goose bumps was when I saw the 12-foot poster for all the mazes with the titles for ‘Saw’ and ‘Insidious,’” he said. “It hit me that these films that only existed my brain now belong to the fans.”

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The “Insidious” series, which totals four films including “Insidious: Chapter 3” on which Whannell made his directorial debut, is a supernatural horror based on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for ghosts in an astral dimension who want to inhabit his body in order to live once again.

“Having a maze built that is based on a film you’ve created is an amazing bonus prize that only comes after its connected with an audience,” Whannell said.

The nightmare-inducing maze is joined at Halloween Horror Nights by FX’s “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” “Saw: The Games of Jigsaw,” “Ash vs Evil Dead,” plus Jason, Freddy and Leatherface in “Titans of Terror,” the horrors of Blumhouse with a “Purge,” “Happy Death Day” and “Sinister” combo, and the post-apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead.”

Also Read: Can ‘Happy Death Day’ Keep Blumhouse’s Box Office Momentum Going?

Dare to brave them all between now and Nov. 4 — or simply sit back in safety and read TheWrap’s interview with Whannell below.

TheWrap: What was the first horror movie that really scared you?
Leigh Whannell: When I was about six, a girl at school told me stories about this film “Jaws,” which I hadn’t seen. I now realize she was making up a lot of what she said, like that the shark ate a plane then came up on the beach. I begged my dad to let me watch the movie — and then I wasn’t even disappointed that Jaws didn’t eat a plane! It really scared me for a good few years, I had to sleep above the bedcovers as I was terrified that the shark was under the sheets. Sharks are a real issue in Australia, so “Jaws” could so easily come true.

What do you think is most terrifying for modern-day movie audiences?
It depends on the mood, I think ghostly horror stuff captures everyone’s fears more than real-life terror because even armed home invasions won’t statistically happen to many people. But when you watch a scary supernatural movie, it is really easy for our imagination to take hold. My mum tells me ghost stories and I don’t think she has the inclination or imagination to make it up, so I don’t doubt that it is true. It makes me believe there is something beyond our conception. There’s a lot of things human beings still don’t know, even though we think we we’re so smart … we’re still just apes in shirts.

The Jack the Ripper story still fascinates me as that ship has sailed and we’ll never really know who the murderer was … unsolved mysteries are the scariest things of all.

Also Read: Tom Hanks’ David S Pumpkins Set to Return in Animated Halloween Special

What do you think of people saying the success of movies like “It” and “Get Out” have made horror cool again?
I don’t know why people keep saying because “It” was a hit, then horror is back in vogue. It’s like suddenly saying breakfast is back. It’s always been there. A few years ago when “Saw” came out and then “The Conjuring,” everyone said “horror is back.” You don’t have the same thing with other genres, like “comedy is back.”

Horror has always been here. The first time anyone could roll a camera, they filmed a vampire. “It” was a bestselling novel in the ’80s and you’re saying its changed the face of horror? “It” is great for horror, but it’s not new.

Also Read: ‘It’ Sequel to Float Into Theaters September 2019

Why do you think so many small-budget horror movies end up making big profits?
It’s a genre that doesn’t need stars. You don’t need to put Brad Pitt in horror films, so you can make them on a low budget and they actually work better with no-name actors. Sometimes tons of money can actually be detrimental for horror because our private fears are small and live in our heads. Most people’s fears are simply things like being attacked in an alley way or a haunted house.

Also Read: Will ‘It’ Have ‘Get Out’-Style Staying Power at the Box Office?

A good horror film is something you can shoot entirely in a house or the woods, so the bedrock of the genre doesn’t require money. I want my film to be dark, so you turn the lights off … so it’s a very budget-friendly genre.

“Insidious: The Last Key” is set for release in January 2018, it will be followed by Whannell’s upcoming sci-fi thriller, “Stem,” produced by Blumhouse Productions and starring Logan Marshall-Green.

Watch video of the Halloween Horror Nights maze below.

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‘The Bye Bye Man’ Review: Fear Takes a Hike In Overwrought Teen Flick

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“The Bye Bye Man” sounds like a hooky three-minute ditty a Brill Building songwriter might have come up with in the 60s. But as presented in this slapdash serving of January horror, the title is no ear candy; it’s a name not to be sung, mentioned, heard, or imagined, or else you’ll go mad just thinking about what this nasty spirit is going to do to you.

Director Stacy Title’s (“The Last Supper”) bid for obsession-possession spookiness and boogeyman scares succumbs to the usual genre pitfalls: loud and empty shocks, monotony, and talk-explain-talk-explain scenes that drain the movie of any ghoulish mystery it might have held.

A queasy prologue, though, hints at a promisingly gnarly time, with a calm, sunny 1969 afternoon in a suburb of Madison, Wisc., broken by the appearance of a nervy, bespectacled man (played by Leigh Whannell, the writer behind the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises) with a rifle, ranting and dead set on killing friends and family members. Though this is the PG-13 version of a horrifically brutal situation, it’s enough to prime your terror sensors for whatever supernatural awfulness is going to happen to the present-day college kids we’re introduced to immediately afterward: kind-faced Elliot (Douglas Smith, “Miss Sloane”), his fair-haired, soft-spoken girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and their friendly, party-hearty bud John (Lucien Laviscount, “Scream Queens”).

See Video: Watch ‘The Bye Bye Man’ New Trailer: Possessed People Do Terrible Things

Patience first, though, as this cheery trio move into the run-down multi-story house that you know holds the source of all things bad. All the furniture’s in the basement, including a nightstand that winds up right next to Elliot’s and Sasha’s bed. Handwritten on the drawer lining in a circle are the words “don’t say it, don’t think it,” over and over — which, of course, one of them says aloud — and scrawled on the underside is the movie title, which, when spoken during a jokey “séance” with a goth-y self-proclaimed psychic named Kim (Jenna Kanell), causes the lights to go out and one of them to collapse. And then we’re off and running.

But not really, because the modus operandi of the tall, shrouded, long-fingered Bye Bye Man (wraithlike Guillermo del Toro regular Doug Jones) and his (digitally created) hellhound is to start slow and then make those who summon him see things that aren’t there, like an aperitif of figment jollies before the delusion-wrought violence. That means a long build-up of Elliot hearing scratching noises nobody else does, sex noises that don’t pan out, and thinking Sasha and John aren’t around when they really are.

Also Read: ‘Insidious: Chapter 4’ Lands Director, 2017 Release Date

Sasha and John have hallucinatory zone-outs, too, but they’re not particularly shiver-worthy, and Title is all too content to punch it all up with the bane of modern fright films: loud jolts of sound and volume-driven music.

What follows is the other fatal flaw in today’s multiplex hauntings: dull investigations and explanatory chitchat. There’s the clichéd library excursion, the old newspaper story with clues, skeptical law enforcement (in the form of Carrie Anne Moss), and a visit to a figure from the past, in this case a Bye Bye Man survivor played by Faye Dunaway, who gets to stand on a stairwell and regally bellow “Leave!” but not much else. (If this screen legend is counting on a “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”-style late-career horror comeback, it’ll have to wait.)

What’s been slowly murdering the tension, you realize as “The Bye Bye Man” enters its hopped-up home stretch, is the repetitiveness of the dialogue (by screenwriter Jonathan Penner, adapting a story by Robert Damon Schneck), which devolves into Elliot carrying on a running tour-guide monologue about who the Bye Bye Man is, how he operates, what one should and shouldn’t do, and how to stop him. It’s exhausting.

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By the gruesomely determined end, “The Bye Bye Man” is more an energy-pumping exercise in climax management than something dread-inducing, and it’s genre-silly (especially when it comes to Bye Bye Man appearances) when it should be emotionally grave. Even the darkness in James Kniest’s (“Hush”) workmanlike cinematography feels forced rather than organic.

Though the movie’s intellectualization of what drives our worst impulses feels grounded in something psychologically astute about fear, it’s told more than shown or acted, and Title’s command of the material is haphazard, her direction not artful enough to know when expository clunkiness is undercutting the chance to dig into the meat of personalities in deterioration. “The Bye Bye Man” certainly wades into Polanski territory, but it suffers from a Freddy Krueger sheen and process-driven plotting.

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