Paranormal Activity 4

New Characters, Same Old Demon…

Paranormal Activity 4

Dir: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Since the original Paranormal Activity came out in 2007, no other horror film has seen the success in sequels this series has. This past year Paramount Studios released the fourth installment of its franchise and although it was met with critical failure, Paranormal Activity 4 made a huge splash at the box office. On a budget of a mere 5 million, it claimed 140 million at the box office. It has set the standards for aspiring horror filmmakers and has proved that low budget films can be huge box office successes.

That being said, it is time to take a look at what Paranormal Activity 4 brought to the table this go around. It is important to note that it is a sequel not to Paranormal Activity 3, but to Paranormal Activity 2. The second film ended with Katie, played by Katie Featherston, killing her sister and kidnapping her nephew Hunter. She then disappears for five years and she pops up in Nevada with her “son” now called Robbie, played by Brady Allen. They slowly begin to terrorize the family across the street and eventually Robbie finds himself staying with the family. Shortly after his arrival, things start to take a deadly turn.

Going into this fourth installment my anticipation was high, I was hoping for some resolution and to have some questions resolved. Unfortunately, without giving any spoilers, Paranormal Activity 4 does not deliver. You’re left with a rushed climax and an abrupt finish.

In the previous films, the footage found was always more convincing. The screenwriter,  Christopher Landon best known for Disturbia, didn’t make sense of the cameras and their placement in the film. Here, the writer seemed to take the easy and lazy way out and have everything shot by phone, laptops and even going as far as using a Xbox Kinect. It was disappointing that there was no creativity with the “found footage.” At one point the character Alex, Kathryn Newton, was running around the house shooting everything with her laptop webcam, which made no sense most of the time.

Matt Shively and Kathryn Newton in their portrayal of Ben and Alex.

The relationship between Alex and her boyfriend Ben, played by Matt Shively, is one of the highlights of this installment. Their playful banter and affection for each other is a refreshing change to these usually dark and somber films. This change in pace brought new life to what was starting to become a repetitive film franchise.

However, the new spirits of Alex and Ben aren’t enough to completely save the film. There was also too much of Katie throughout the movie. In the first two films, after she is possessed, she became a fearful subject to view. In the fourth installment, they have made her  “human” again which is a negative thing. She lost her menacing and spine chilling presence and became a lesser character to her son Robbie. Where we wanted to see more of her in the previous movies, too much of a good thing turned into a bad one. Hopefully in the fifth installment, which already has a release date of October 25, 2013, will make up for this fourth.

I wouldn’t say pass up viewing Paranormal Activity 4 because, if you’re like me and have seen the previous three films, it is worth getting answers to a few questions that the other films left a mystery. Paranormal Activity 4 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

2.5 / 5 stars     

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