It will be a surprise to no-one that, following the monumental box office success of the first Insidious film in 2011, we now sit here seven years later having reached the fourth installment of this modern horror franchise. As with most other franchises of this ilk (cheap to make and turn over a colossal profit), after several iterations, they lose considerable steam (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity). So one would assume that is the case with Insidious: The Last Key, however, that is not so as this series has astonishingly taken a turn for the better courtesy of its unlikely star, Lin Shaye.

Insidious: The Last Key sits comfortably in the timeline between Chapter Three and Chapter One meaning it serves as both a prequel and a sequel. The story explores more of the backstory of Elise (Lin Shaye) as nightmares of her childhood come back to haunt her when she is called back to her family home along with her trusty sidekicks Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), to find that she has some unresolved issues of own to face head on.

It’s unusual in films of this brand to have such an engaging and appealing lead character that you genuinely feel invested in. Lin Shaye brings so much warmth to the role of Elise Rainier that audiences who require more than just cheap scares can connect with her story. Whereas that may not have been the case in the very beginning, it is a welcome site to see at this point of the franchise. With Elise being as fleshed out as she is, this extends to the family home as the house also feels like an important character.

For once, the setting indeed feels like it has meaning integral to the plot. The crooked and decrepit building is full of atmosphere and history which creates the unnerving sense of dread that is so important for the genre of horror. One additional key aspect of The Last Key that I as one thoroughly enjoyed was the sound design. A particular scene at approximately the half way point, Elise and Tucker are tracking the paranormal using various sound apparatus which replaces all sound with eerie crackling and distorted sounds which adds genuine tension to the proceedings, just before the director Adam Robitel decides to quickly opt back to the generic loud jump scares that you expect.

Now this is not to say that everything in the Insidious Universe has been redeemed. As eluded to earlier, this installment relies heavily on the predictable jump scare. Throughout many scenes the build up was most certainly there but fell short on the payoff. After years and years of watching Horror, one gets accustom to how jump scares are presented. Along with a regular horror trope, The Last Key leans massively on heavy exposition and tends to treat the audience like imbeciles. At least 10 minutes of runtime could comfortably be cut due to characters over-explaining the story just in case the audience isn’t following the fairly simply plot laid out before them.

As previously mentioned, this story fits in between the third and first installments which is made even more present with the film’s ending. Whereas this is painstakingly obviously to the majority of people, the filmmakers deem it necessary to hand hold the viewer until the very last moment and the film should have ended at least sixty seconds earlier which would have made for a more impactful ending.

With all of it’s flaws, Insidious: The Last Key is helped along by its enjoyable lead heroine, her lovable sidekicks and its solid atmosphere but wastes plenty of potential that it very clearly had.

Insidious: The Last Key is out in UK cinemas now.