Insidious: The Last Key (3 stars)

Insidious: The Last Key

Lin Shaye is the compelling centre of an unexpectedly moving fourth instalment in the supernatural horror franchise

'I don't have memories from that place. I have scars,' explains parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) to her Spectral Sightings team, as she goes into more detail about a physically abusive upbringing at the hands of her father. A phone call from the current resident of her former family home, that sits alongside an abandoned state penitentiary in Five Keys, New Mexico, leads her back there to confront cruel demons in the creepy fourth instalment of the Insidious franchise.

If you've come this far in the supernatural horror series, you may have developed a fondness for Elise and her determined approach to quashing monsters. Screenwriter and creator of Insidious Leigh Whannell certainly seems to love this character and he shades in her back-story and relationship with her colleagues Specs (Whannell himself) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) with such obvious affection that it's difficult not to get caught up in their ghost-hunting adventure.

This time it's personal and, with the charismatic Shaye turning in another excellent performance and leading the way through her murky family history, it's also an unexpectedly moving tale, exploring Elise's motivations for helping others.

The previous films were directed by James Wan and Whannell but this time the keys are handed over to Adam Robitel, who conjures up the usual jump scares and manages to play with the tropes. One scene involving a real-life monster niftily shifts the traditional signs of a haunting – the opening of drawers, loud footsteps – to give the film a tense thriller vibe.

The sensitive themes Whannell deals with, such as the silencing of women and domestic abuse, are conveyed in a creatively sinister and disturbing fashion. The intentionally icky flirtation techniques used by Specs and Tucker on Elise's family members to lighten the mood do get tiresome but, thanks to the co-workers' touching bond, the main takeaway here is a sense of hope.

General release from Fri 12 Jan.

Insidious: The Last Key

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • 1h 43min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Adam Robitel
  • Cast: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson

Parapsychologist Dr Elise Rainier (Shaye) faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home. An unexpectedly moving fourth instalment features and excellent performance from the charismatic Shaye, and sensitive themes of silencing women and domestic abuse are well-handled.