Paranormal Activity is one of my absolute favourite cinema experiences. The screen was sold out, filled with adults and we all had a great time. Since then the quality has been on a consistent free fall but there is always a glimmer of hope that the franchise will churn out another film on par with the first.
I had been well warned that Paranormal Activity 4 was not the return to form that we have all been waiting for so my hopes were kept firmly in check. The film has been out for quite some time now so there will be spoilers from hereon in. Abort now if you do not wish to read them.
PLOT: Five years after the events of the second film Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) chat online to each other every waking minute of the day. Alex’s simple life is interrupted when Robbie (Bradly Allen), the strange child from across the street, moves in after his mother is hospitalised. After noticing some spooky coincidences Alex sets up cameras around the house to try and get to the bottom of the supernatural mystery. Alex watches her recordings religiously up until the moment that something actually happens and from then on in she either forgets that her cameras are running or doesn’t feel the need to view the footage. Katie (Katie Featherston) appears. The family are terrorised by the Paranormal Activity Demon. The
twist. The End. END PLOT
The plotting of Paranormal Activity 4 isn’t complex but it is riddled with holes and unanswered questions – Why did Katie steal Hunter, put him through the adoption process, only to steal him back again four years later? Who was Robbie? Where did Robbie go? Why did Doug (Stephen Dunham) not question the possessed knife? Why did Alex suddenly forget that she was recording everything?
The mythology of the franchise is non-existent and PA4 makes no attempts to develop it other than a throwaway google scene. Katie is the link between each film but there is no point to her being there unless we are given some insight into her relationship with the coven and what they actually want.
If you have seen one Paranormal Activity you have seen them all. The constant rehashing of the format wouldn’t be offensive if they actually managed to create some genuine scares – Paranormal Activity 4 has no scares whatsoever although I will concede that the last five minutes was fairly tense.
Newton and Shively are decent in the lead roles however they aren’t under pressure to do anything other than go through the motions. They were easy to watch and quite likeable which helped the film from being a total train wreck.
Paranormal Activity was such a great film due to the fact it used simple scares and built on them. None of the sequels have come anywhere close to matching the original and Paranormal Activity 4 adds to the downward sliding momentum. It gets a generous 3/10. Whoever edits the trailers for these films is a genius and I already know that if the previews for PA5 are halfway decent I will be there to see it. The trailer editor needs a good hard slap - he is the true brains behind the franchise. The talented prick.