Paranormal Activity 4 Review (Kirk Haviland)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Starring Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Brady Allen, Aiden Lovekamp and Katie Featherston

Written by Chad Feehan, Zack Estrin and Christopher Landon

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

New this weekend in theaters from Paramount Pictures comes the latest installment in the Paranormal Activity series: Paranormal Activity 4. Starting with superbly crafted tiny indie film that became a sensation that was the first PA, the series has gone on to generate millions in revenue for little cost for Paramount and has managed to supplant the Saw films as the recurring new film each year for Halloween in theaters. But has the film series exhausted itself creatively, and perhaps more importantly has it outstayed its welcome with its audience?

Paranormal Activity 4 takes place five years after Paranormal Activity 2, which ended with Katie’s (Featherston) dispatching of her sister’s family and the abducting of their baby, Hunter. The 4th film follows the life of teen Alex (Newton), along with her boyfriend Ben (Shively), her parents and her little brother Wyatt (Lovekamp). Alex’s mom takes Robbie (Allen) into their home after his mother has an accident which puts her in the hospital. But things are not as they seem and Robbie is far from an ordinary young boy and his presence leads to strange phenomena occurring inside the house. Alex seems to be the only one who is noticing the strange occurrences all around her, and the change of Wyatt’s attitude under the influence of Robbie.

The biggest issue I had with the 4th film in the Paranormal Activity series is the fact that it’s really boring. The new family here is really an unengaging group, with the script really painting mom and dad as stereotypical shells and leaving the entire story centering on the kids. Fortunately Newton’s performance as Alex, the daughter, is the strongest acted performance of the film. She really delivers a solid performance and Lovekamp’s portrayal of Wyatt is some decent work as well. The comedic relief is left on Shively’s shoulders as the boyfriend and he manages to provide a few laughs.

However, our returning character of Katie is barley involved this time around. The film trudges along with very few high spots until we hit he final act. We see some interesting developments before the final “stare down”, including one character’s inventive demise, but then it all goes horribly wrong. The ending is terrible. I mean Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers awful here. It incorporates aspects and graphics that have never been involved in any way in the previous films and does it spectacularly wrong. Also the contention/ leap of faith we are required to believe with regards to the recording of the events throughout the film is preposterous. Setting all the webcams on all the laptops in the house to record non-stop would require all the laptops to be open ALL THE TIME, never mind the batteries running out. And this is done without the family’s knowledge! This never comes off at believable for a minute.

Ultimately Paranormal Activity 4 fails at delivering the tense, unnerving experience that the first film did so well. As with the case with the Saw films, Paranormal Activity 4 is a victim of the law of diminishing returns for horror sequels, as the story lacks any of the bite that the first one did. Paranormal Activity 4 is a non-recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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