Paranormal Activity was a chilly breath of fresh air back in 2007. Hot on the bloody heels of the onslaught of all the Saws and Hostels—gory, high concept horror films—Paranormal Activity‘s back-to-basics approach really got under the skin of over-hyped audiences. After audiences had adjusted to the over-edited action films of Michael Bay and Peter Greengrass, Paranormal Activity proved there was nothing more terrifying than watching a static, unedited shot for minutes on end. Oh the horror.
So simple was its presentation and ambition that it resembled John Carpenter’s Halloween: minimal gore but maximum suspense; only this time it was a malevolent spook instead of a lurking, masked maniac that was sending the chills up everyone’s spine. But like most ultra low budget films that scare off the competition at the box office, it spawned a handful of sequels which built on the mythology but ultimately dulled its impact.
Plenty of paranormal activity is recorded, but the problem is, the teenagers keep forgetting to review it. And so indicates the filmmakers’ desperate attempts to keep coming up with inventive ways for cameras to always be switched on to allow the audience to witness the creepy goings on…
Keeping something fresh for the fourth time around can be quite a challenge, one that is not met here by series regulars Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3 and Catfish). Expanding upon the intimate scope established in the first three (which followed members of one family), we are now given access to the video recordings of another affluent, suburban family 11 years after the events in part two.
If you need a quick refresher, it was the one where constantly haunted Katie (Katie Featherston) kidnaps her nephew Hunter in a possessed state and disappears without a trace. Typical teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton), who lives with her bickering parents and adopted little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), feels strange things are happening in the house around the time they take in their neighbour’s creepy child Robbie (Brady Allen) for a couple of days. The bond that quickly develops between Robbie and Wyatt is about as unsettling as when Robbie gets up in the middle of the night and talks to an invisible presence.
Hoping to catch more bizarre activity, Alex, with the help of her hormone driven best friend Ben (Matt Shively), programs all the Macs in the house (yes, they have several) to continually record footage. Plenty of paranormal activity is recorded, but the problem is, the teenagers keep forgetting to review it. And so indicates the filmmakers’ desperate attempts to keep coming up with inventive ways for cameras to always be switched on to allow the audience to witness the creepy goings on, but fail to keep this logical and believable like in the other instalments.
…this family, who fret when their chandeliers fall victim to the demons playfulness, is really hard to relate to.
Taking this story beyond the haunted family in the first three films does not do it any favours. The humble and appealing young couple in the beginning (Katie and Micah), made it easy for us to go along with these supernatural hijinks, but this family, who fret when their chandeliers fall victim to the demons playfulness, is really hard to relate to. Nor does it help that the film shifts protagonists throughout, prompting more confusion.
The routine is set in stone by this point and it is easy to become desensitised to it; waiting for something to go bump in the night in the other films was borderline torturous, but this time it becomes a bore. Not without a couple of effective jolt scares, Paranormal Activity 4 should keep series fans happy but these hauntings are getting tiresome.
[notification type=”star”]50/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. Paranormal Activity 4 should keep series fans happy but these hauntings are getting tiresome.[/notification]