The best decision the first Insidious movie made, back in 2010, was casting Lin Shaye as maverick demon-hunter Elise Rainier. The worst decision? Killing her off at the end of the film. Because as the franchise has gone on, it’s only become clearer than Shaye – already a horror icon thanks to appearances in countless scary movies, from 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street onwards – is its strongest asset.
In The Last Key, a prequel to Insidious and a sequel to Insidious: Chapter 3, Elise is both demon hunter and demon hunted. When she receives a call from a man living in a haunted house in Five Keys, New Mexico, she’s forced to return to the place she grew up, to confront the (literal) demons of her own past. It’s a brilliant showcase for Shaye, who gets to be steely and determined, vulnerable and terrified, and a whole spectrum of other emotions in between. She anchors the film, forcing the viewer to go with her on her journey.