We braved a visit to the set of Insidious: The Last Key, the fourth film in the hit horror franchise. 

Unless you’re Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon, it’s tough getting hired as a sixty-something actress.

But here’s another name for the list: Lin Shaye, today reprising her role as parapsychologist Elise Raine in Insidious: The Last Key, the fourth movie in this popular low-budget horror franchise.

At 74 years-old, Shaye isn’t just a scream queen for the ages – with notable roles in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ouija, Critters and Amityville: A New Generation – she’s also enjoyed a hugely successful comedy career appearing in most of the Farrelly brothers’ comedies including There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Stuck on You.

“What makes these films so relatable is that they are supernatural stories which also deal with family”

“This second chapter of my career leaves me speechless because it’s totally unexpected,” Shaye tells STACK during our visit the set of Insidious: The Last Key, deep in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Tearing up, she says, “This is actually the biggest role of my career and I’ve been in almost 100 movies over 45 years. That’s a pretty intense thought and makes me hyper-aware of all I must bring to this.”

A prequel to the original Insidious, a breakout hit in 2011, Shaye is proud to have survived through four installments, even if her character has died and been resurrected throughout the franchise.

“I think what makes these films so relatable is that they are supernatural stories which also deal with family, personal issues and pain; things we all have in our own lives,” she says.

While earlier chapters starred Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, this fourth film puts Shaye front and centre. It’s directed by newcomer Adam Robitel and written by series creator, Australia’s own Leigh Whannell.

[L-R] Leigh Whannell, director Adam Robitel, and Lin Shaye

Best known for writing films directed by his friend James Wan, including Insidious, Saw and Dead Silence, the Melbourne actor-writer made his own directorial debut in 2015 with Insidious: Chapter 3.

However, he is in no rush to direct another one: “I felt like I got it out of my system with the third one, and I wanted to give someone else a chance. Plus my role as Specs is a lot bigger in this than in any of the other films,” says Whannell between takes.

“I feel like directing whilst playing this role would have been tough. I have a few other scripts that I’m working on, so I wanted to step aside and let someone else do it.”

Talking about his love of the supernatural, he says, “I grew up with the typical high school hijinks where certain neighbourhood houses were supposedly haunted and all those other urban legend stories.

Insidious-The-Last-Key

“I always had a love of the supernatural, the weird and ghost stories, and when I met James Wan, he was equally as obsessed with true-life ghost stories. He had a ton from his family and we would collect them. A lot of the scares in the first Insidious film were taken from stories we’ve heard from our friends or relatives.”

Whannell couldn’t do his job if he wasn’t a believer, he argues. “Too many people, who I don’t think have a reason to lie, have told me ghost stories. Relatives who I don’t believe would have the imagination or the inclination to make it up have told me some pretty amazing stories. I don’t know if I believe anything concrete, but I believe there’s some sort of energy that I think could, after you die, transmit itself in the form of, like, you could look over and see your grandfather standing there; I think that could be his energy reaching you. There’s a million explanations for it, but I definitely believe in something.”

Shaye has the last word. “My favourite expression is: It’s only just the beginning. This career is without end and you still need to keep on using everything you have to begin again.”

With roles in no less than five upcoming horror movies, you better believe her.

Insidious: The Last Key is in cinemas on February 8. Get up to date with the Insidious franchise beforehand at JB Hi-Fi.

LIN SHAYE

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

KINGPIN (1996)

Shaye’s ghastly landlady offers Woody Harrelson an indecent proposal in lieu of paying the rent.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998)

Shaye’s orange and leathery Magda almost manages to upstage Ben Stiller’s infamous hair-gel moment.

DETROIT ROCK CITY (1999)

God-fearing mother Mrs. Bruce will do anything to stop her teenaged son from seeing a Satanic band like KISS.