When the original Insidious was released nearly seven years ago I was giddy with delight. It was the kind of horror film I had been waiting for although I wouldn’t have guessed that prior to the experience of seeing it. It was full of disturbing imagery of the variety that lingers long after the film was over. Furthermore, the scares in the film were not scattered conservatively throughout its running time. The filmmakers began doling them out right away and never really let up until it was over and done. It may not have been award worthy but the original Insidious was a good time to be had at the movies.

And then the sequels came along, each one watering down what good memories I had of the original Insidious experience.

Which brings me to the latest in what has become a certified film franchise. It’s also become quite a profitable one at that. Frankly, I will admit that this was something I didn’t see coming and was actually quite surprised when the first sequel appeared, never dreaming that there would be four films and counting only a few years after the initial entry was unleashed upon the world.

The latest Insidious film is probably not the worst of the series but that’s not saying much since the last two were pretty rancid. The only good thing that can really be said about the latest entry is that it gives us a seventy plus year old female as its protagonist. Now that’s something you don’t see every day in a time when ageism is rarely, if ever, addressed in societal circles. Unfortunately, that’s about as close as this film comes to breaking new ground.

Elise, the paranormal investigator seen in theses films, is the character to which I’m referring. She’s played once again by veteran actress Lin Shaye, who was better known for her work in comedies made by the Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin) before the Insidious franchise sent her career spinning in another direction. Here she continues her journey into the ‘further’ when she called upon to investigate a haunting in the home she resided in as a child.

Elise and her two assistants, Specs and Tucker, head out to the home where she attempts to get to the bottom of things, while also dealing with her own personal demons lingering from her childhood. There are flashbacks to the time when Elise was coming of age that really don’t offer much that you haven’t seen before, and this offers an excuse to introduce Elise’s estranged brother, Christian (Bruce Davison) into the proceedings.

The biggest problem with Insidious: The Last Key is that it just isn’t scary enough. When the tally of scares is less than a dozen at the seventy-five minute mark then you know you’re in trouble. The PG-13 rating certainly doesn’t help matters either. Lackluster is the word that comes to mind.

Photo: Lin Shaye, left, in Insidious: The Last Key

AMC Hickory’s website shows Insidious: The Last Key playing as of January 12.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].