January 24, 2018 4:51 pm

Horror has been more progressive than many have given it credit for over the years. After it, it gave us scream queens and many other irresistible tropes. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone then that the popular Insidious franchise, now on its fourth instalment, The Last Key, is showing us things that we’ve never seen before.

The oldest superhero in town

No other franchise stars a female actress over 70 in the leading role, never mind one that casts her in the role of a sort of superhero. The first instalment starred Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson as Renai and Josh Lambert, a couple troubled by a supernatural visitor. It was Lin Shaye, however, that saved the day and showed us who the real star was, in her role as psychic Elise Rainier.

When the couple’s son, Dalton (played by Ty Simpkins), falls into a coma, a supernatural force begins to take over their home. When they fly in the face of one of the oldest tropes in the genre – staying in a home that’s haunted- it is revealed that it wasn’t the house that was haunted, but Dalton, due to Josh’s suppressed reluctance to get in contact with the astral plane.

If there were any doubts that Elise was the star of this movie, they should have long been erased after she was brought back to life in the first sequel (after she was killed by a possessed Josh), as well as the third and fourth instalments. The Lamberts were nowhere to be seen in any of the sequels.

An insatiable thirst for horror

It appears that fans can’t get enough of their favourite granny and the Insidious franchise. But then it’s long been the case with horror that the more fans see, the more they want. How many franchises have we seen that have spawned a seemingly endless number of sequels? Whether it’s Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Saw, the movies and their iconic characters have a knack for captivating their respective fan bases.

But it isn’t just movies that have been inundated with horror. We have seen the genre’s success at costume parties (at Halloween especially, of course), and in numerous novels, comics, and games. Horror is even popular in online slot games, such as Immortal Romance. Horror provides thrills like no other genre, so when you throw in the added excitement from the chance to win big on a free spins no deposit slot game, it’s no surprise that fans can’t get enough.

But there comes a time when we want to see something new. And Insidious gave us just that in Elise.

Elise and her sidekicks

Lin Shaye 2017 by Toglenn (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

At this point, Elise has undoubtedly received superhero status. She has faced different monsters from one movie to the next. She has also remained a consistent presence, revealing more details about her character each time we are invited into her world. She’s even given a pair of companions to work with (Tucker and Specs, played by Angus and Whannell Simpson). The creators have managed to resist a surely-tempting foray into parody, showing an unshakeable loyalty to Elise without ever stepping outside of her boundaries.

It may be going too far to suggest that the Insidious movies are feminist in nature, as they never appear to be targeting a particular social message. At the same time, it cannot be overstated exactly how much of a hero Elise has become – and a unique one at that. Age aside, Elise is also an impressive female protagonist due to her not revealing any outward indicators of toughness. She also doesn’t resort to rowdiness to win the viewer’s attention, as other characters of her age before her have done. She can get away with wearing her scarves, cardigans and pastel sweaters, and yet show that she’s very much a force to be reckoned with.

Female characters have often been forced to conform to one stereotype or another for them to be perceived as being marketable. That’s what makes the freedom given to Elise a breath of fresh air. While her face may not be on the promo posters, it’s made clear, in no certain terms, that she’s very much the hero in all of the trailers. If you love the Insidious franchise, you love Elise Rainier, too. They’ve become synonymous with each other. After all: the actress has been given the title of the “godmother of horror”. And deservedly so.

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This post was written by Nadia Vella