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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity 4
Paramount // R // October 19, 2012
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted October 18, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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When the first Paranormal Activity was released, it became a hit with moviegoers who wanted to watch something scary. Paramount quickly cashed in on the opportunity and made two sequels rather eagerly. Those entries aren't nearly as good as the original and a lot of other questions have been created and left unanswered. By this point in the franchise, Paranormal Activity 4 should be wrapping the story up by providing audiences with answers. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don't bother to explain anything. This film fails to create a cohesive story and isn't able to bring anything original to the series. While fans will still want to see this to find out what happens, everybody else should avoid it.

Five years after Katie (Katie Featherston) and Hunter disappeared in Paranormal Activity 2, a suburban family begins to witness strange events in the neighborhood. Alice (Kathryn Newton) is a teenager who constantly video chats with her boyfriend, Alex (Matt Shively). They become suspicious of young Robbie (Brady Allen) when he moves into Alice's house for a few days when his mom is in the hospital. The two teenagers decide to set up laptops and cameras around the house in order to capture all of the strange occurrences that have been taking place in the house.

The concept of focusing on the neighbors is alright, but moviegoers are introduced to a much more irritating build-up than what we've seen in the previous entries. The majority of the movie isn't about anything paranormal, but is about the everyday life of this family, which gets boring. When Robbie moves into Alice's house and all of the cameras are set up, Alice and Alex randomly stop checking the video footage, making this an incredibly contrived plot element. There are so many sequences where we're left looking at blank rooms with nothing happening until the final 20 minutes. However, Paranormal Activity 4 lacks an acceptable climax. The first film placed the majority of the paranormal interactions to this portion of the movie and it was very effective. The most recent flick disappoints, as even the ending plays it safe. There's absolutely nothing surprising or scary about the final act. After sitting through the annoying build-up, the ending isn't worth the wait.

While Paranormal Activity 3 isn't a masterpiece, it showed audiences what Katie and Kristi's childhood was like with this entity following them. Paranormal Activity 4 doesn't fit in with the first three entries of the series, as it never successfully creates a connection. Those who want to hear more about this demon's mythology won't learn anything new. Alice stops researching once she discovers what type of demon it is, which we were already informed of in a previous entry. The screenplay doesn't do very much other than cheapen what we've seen in the previous movies. This could have been the opportunity to bring something fresh to the franchise, while still going back and answering questions that continue to be dropped through each feature. Whether or not you're a fan of these films, this one will not feel like an actual continuation of the story. It feels a lot more like filler.

With young Kathryn Newton handling the main role of Alice, I wasn't sure how this would work out. However, she's surprisingly charming on screen. There isn't a lot to this character, but Newton has turned out to be a good casting decision. While Katie Featherston has returned to the role of Katie, she's barely in this movie. She solid when she's actually on screen, but she isn't utilized to her full potential. Matt Shively is fine as Alex. He's convincing enough to pull it off. There aren't any brilliant performances, but they do fine with the material. The acting isn't an issue.

The handheld footage continues in the third sequel. However, the majority of the movie is filmed through a series of video chats and the rest is shot on a handheld camera. The exact same gimmicks we've seen since the first Paranormal Activity are being used yet again. They're so unbelievably predictable that you'll see every jump scare coming from a mile away. The editing is a major distraction, as there aren't any transitions and the next scene will instantly start in the middle of a sound, which is an attempt to make viewers jump. However, there's one cool visual gimmick, which is made using the Kinect when the night vision is turned on. Unfortunately, it's used almost every time it gets dark in the house, which makes it lose any effect it had. Does this family really leave their Xbox on all night? If you've seen any other Paranormal Activity film, then you should know exactly what to expect and when to expect it.

This horror series has officially come to the point where they shouldn't be made anymore. Paranormal Activity 4 is an unimaginative sequel that will leave fans and average moviegoers feeling irritated. The build-up is composed of staring at empty rooms and watching a teenager video chat with her boyfriend, while the climax of the movie doesn't think outside of the box. The most disappointing aspect of this horror flick is that absolutely no questions are answered. The mythology that the films have slowly been uncovering has stopped. Instead, we're provided with some information we already learned. This doesn't feel like a genuine entry in the series, but more like filler. Paranormal Activity 4 lacks any genuine scares and fails to be inventive. Skip it.

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