Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity 4
by Eric D. Snider
Released: October 19, 2012
Give the "Paranormal Activity" people some credit. They've made three sequels now to what was initially a standalone, not-meant-to-be-a-franchise horror film, and they've done it without becoming a laughable parody of themselves. They've expanded the story in ways that largely make sense. The movies have only gradually diminished in quality, too -- unlike most series, which may start strong but are complete disasters by the time you get to Part 4.
That being said, "Paranormal Activity 4" is certainly the weakest of the bunch. The jump-scares that are the franchise's hallmarks are a little less potent, the suspense not quite as high, the payoff not nearly as chilling. Is some of this due to a perhaps unavoidable over-familiarity? Is it unfair to expect your fourth Crunchwrap Supreme to taste as good as the first one did? Probably. But the story in "PA 4" is disappointingly incoherent, a problem its predecessors did not have.
The action is set five years after the events of "PA 2," which ended with Katie (Katie Featherston) killing her sister's family and making off with her baby nephew, Hunter. Their whereabouts are unknown, says the title card, though we suspect that's about to change. In Henderson, Nev., 15-year-old Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her little brother, Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), are bemused by the boy across the street, Robbie (Brady Allen), who behaves in standard Creepy Kid fashion, with the staring at walls and the talking to unseen friends and the showing up in the middle of the night and what have you. When Robbie's mother is hospitalized, he comes to stay with Alex's family, whereupon spooky things start happening.
Alex and her nice, parent-approved boyfriend, Ben (Matt Shively), are the only ones who notice the strange events, of course; Alex's mother (Alexondra Lee) and father (Stephen Dunham) either don't see them or dismiss them, and Wyatt is ... well, Wyatt is 6, just like Robbie. Six-year-olds have a different threshold for "strange." Inspired by a late-night Skype session during which Ben sees an odd shadow pass behind Alex, they rig all the Macbooks in the house -- there are many Macbooks in the house -- to film everything, all the time. Alex also films quite a bit with her iPhone, like the kids do nowadays.
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Rated R, some harsh profanity, moderate violence, scary and intense stuff
1 hr., 28 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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