The best scene in the original Insidious featured Lin Shaye as psychic Elise Rainier conducting a seance while wearing a WWI gas mask.

Fourth chapter, The Last Key, doesn’t have the gas mask, but it does put Shaye front and centre in what amounts to an ‘origin story’ as to how Elise became the one you call when you’ve got ghosts.

Set just prior to the events of the first film, Elise is drawn back to her hometown of Five Keys in New Mexico, where an entity she called up as a child is still haunting the family home, and the new owner wants to be rid of it.

Together with ghost hunters Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) providing the comic relief (“She’s psychic; we’re sidekick”), Elise uncovers more than just a haunting and must confront the demons of her past, along with her estranged brother (Bruce Davison).

The Last Key‘s focus on Shaye’s character is a plus after a couple of lacklustre sequels. The veteran actress brings conviction to a role – and dialogue – that would otherwise be as hokey as some of the rote scares on offer. After so many memorable supporting parts, it’s great to see her land a lead at 75.

What is disappointing is that director Adam Robitel doesn’t conjure up the same sense of creepiness he displayed with the found-footage horror The Taking of Deborah Logan. He’s content to stick to the interchangeable template of over-the-shoulder apparitions and dark basements wreathed in dry ice, that has become de rigueur for supernatural horror. Whannell’s screenplay, too, is a little muddled in spots.     

Insidious: The Last Key is unlikely to be the last film in the franchise, and while it is an improvement on previous entries, it’s the kind of film where you’re waiting for the horror to really kick in and the end credits begin to roll.

In cinemas: February 8, 2018
Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
Directed by: Adam Robitel

Check out our interview with Lin Shaye on the set.