The Insidious movies have become a surprisingly entertaining franchise, a far-out application of frights that managed to deliver some genuine chills along with the rare fusion of fantasy and horror. A lot of this is thanks to the first two movies being directed by scary-movie maestro James Wan, the reliably great architect of both slow-burn creeps and clockwork-precise jump scares who has become one of the major influences on the look and feel of much modern horror. If the third film suffered a bit for handing over the reins from Wan to Leigh Whannell, writer on all the installments as well as the first several Saw films, it also successfully reoriented the series around longtime horror pro Lin Shaye and her kind-but-tough parapsychologist Elise Rainier. And now Insidious: The Final Key, the fourth film in the franchise, does exactly what The A.V. Club suggested it should do after the last film: It places the focus squarely on Rainier’s poltergeist-fighting shoulders, as the story takes the haunting straight to her own family’s home.
This time out, the supernatural menace is threatening various members of Rainier’s brood, forcing a confrontation with both the new malevolent entity and her own past. While this promises to take her even deeper into the Further, the spirit world that houses these mystical beings, it also unveils a weird new villain: A demonic creature with keys for fingers that has an unpleasant affinity for plunging them into people’s necks. Horror franchises are usually starting to run out of gas by the fourth iteration, but incoming director Adam Robitel might lend some novel twists to the setup, having directed the unexpectedly good found-footage chiller The Taking Of Deborah Logan. Whether we’ll get further scares from the Further or just diminishing returns will be determined when the movie comes out on January 5, 2018.