PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
** (out of 5)
October 19, 2012
Katie Featherston as KATIE
Kathryn Newton as ALEX
Matt Shively as ALEX
Brady Allen as ROBBIE
Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Watching the “Paranormal Activity” movies makes me feel like I’m on my period. It just causes such intense mood swings in me.
I loved the original “Paranormal Activity,” and I was a champion of that film. It even made my top 10 list of the year, not because in itself it was such a great movie, but rather because it brought back the cinematic experience of going to the movies in a group.
Then there was “Paranormal Activity 2,” which abandoned the anonymous nature of the cast and made the lead a woman who was currently on two major television shows (“24” and “Sons of Anarchy”). It also did everything the first film did but in a far less effectual way. I hated the characters and was rooting for the demons by the end of the film.
And then there was “Paranormal Activity 3,” and I was happy again. Sure, it was more of the same formula, but setting it in the 80s and offering some background of the characters gave it a new edge.
Now we’re in the fourth installment, and in direct opposition to the original “Star Trek” movies, it seems that the odd numbers are good ones, and the even numbers suck.
This installment takes place five years after the events of part two. A mysterious woman and creepy son move into a suburb outside of Las Vegas, and the daughter of one of the neighborhood families starts videotaping them. When the mother is taken away in an ambulance one night, this new family lets the son stay with them. However, the family’s daughter notices the kid doing some creepy things and uses her computers (with the aid of her somewhat nerdy boyfriend) to record eerie things happening in the house.
My biggest beef with “Paranormal Activity 4” is that it actually doesn’t make logical sense with the rest of the series. In fact, it would be better taken in a vacuum because it leaves too many absurd gaps in the story to really work. There’s a reason why this family is targeted, but there’s no explanation of how they got in that situation.
Like the other films, it falls into the same traps of silly logic. There’s literally hundreds of hours of footage, but they almost never review it. In one scene, the teenage daughter could literally just show them files on her laptop without disclosing the fact that she’s been recording the whole family, but she never does. We’re back to the idiocy of “Paranormal Activity 2.”
The film also suffers from all the problems of a found footage movie to a ludicrous degree. Forget someone running around with a camera videotaping carnage and never dropping it. Forget a battery life that seems impossible. There are scenes in this film where we’re meant to believe a teenage girl is going to run around the house with her laptop held open in front of her to catch things on camera.
To paraphrase Annie Wilkes from “Misery”: “She never drops the cockadoodie laptop???”
Just as “Saw” helped pioneer the torture porn genre and eventually run it into the ground in less then a decade, “Paranormal Activity” did the same for found footage. And with a new film every Halloween, again so similar to the trajectory of “Saw,” the franchise is being run into the ground. What was once innovative and new is now tired and repetitive.
“Paranormal Activity 4” is just more of the same quickly-staling franchise. You can almost set your watch to the beats… inane family characterization for the first 15 minutes, check… shoehorned excuse to record everything, check… obligatory Google search about demons, check… long shots of nothing happening followed by a not-very-scary jump-scare, check.
Of course, the movie sets itself up for another sequel, where I’m assuming some unanswered questions from this film will continue to be unanswered. But I’ll be honest. If this weren’t my job, I don’t know if I’d ever care about watching another movie in this franchise.