While I may have cowered in fear in my theater seat, Paranormal Activity 4 failed to impress me with its severe lack of definitive plot development, underwhelming frights, and ultimately mundane conclusion. All-in-all, Paranormal Activity 4 poses as a poorly composed wannabe horror flick that teases the audience, but never really delivers on the expectations developed from the earlier movies in the franchise.
It’s been five years since the disappearance of Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew Hunter, and there have been no leads on their whereabouts…that is until a mysterious young woman and her son Robbie (Brady Allen) move into the neighborhood where Doug (Stephen Dunham), Holly (Alexondra Lee), and their two kids Alex (Kathryn Newton) and Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) live. Alex’s keen sense for the unusual is peaked by the strange young neighbor, who lurks around at all hours of the night. When Robbie’s mom is taken away from their house in an ambulance, Holly decides to take him in for a few days. Soon, Robbie’s strange behavior begins to rub off onto Wyatt – things like walking around the house at 3:00 a.m., or talking to seemingly no one.
With the help of her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively), Alex utilizes the technology in her home, hoping to figure out what is causing the oddities that have inexplicably occurred ever since Robbie came to live with them.
While the majority of the movie is a big flop, there were some high points of this installment in the series. The acting of the younger players, especially that of Kathryn Newton was surprisingly well-developed, especially in the context of a horror flick. Often, under-experienced actors will portray a frightened expression poorly, becoming rigid and too full of expression. What impressed me about Kathryn was her ability to almost underplay the fear, giving a more realistic portrayal of her character’s emotions.
Another positive from this movie was provided by the more interesting camera angles, which gave a more interactive quality to the movie, as often someone would pick up a laptop to carry around. As well, the close-up shots often provided a different feel from the typical extra-wide shots that previous security camera footage provided.
While these elements certainly added a bit of differentiation from the previous movies, there was so much of the same, old, boring, predictable plot that I almost contemplated throwing my popcorn at the screen. In addition to the somewhat stale plot line, plot disconnect and rushed plot points cause confusion, and ultimately concludes the movie in an unusually rushed and awkward way. My biggest complaint for this movie largely comes from the lack of scares, and the directors taunt us mercilessly, by setting up opportunities for big moments, yet never utilize that anticipation. It makes for a feeling of dissatisfaction, and is one of the biggest reasons why this movie was such a let down.
Overall, Paranormal Activity 4 is a connector film that will eventually make way for the already announced Paranormal Activity 5. Unfortunately, that means that everyone who is a die-hard fan of the franchise is out the cost of another ticket to ensure that they are up on the happenings of this movie in order to see the next installment. If you aren’t one of these die-hard fans, skip it. I’ve seen scarier things walking around Wal-Mart.
Paranormal Activity 4 – 5/10