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Paranormal Activity 4 (2012 film)

The 4th movie in the franchise

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Let me be clear, I loved the first three...

  • Feb 8, 2013
...but this new film doesn't hold a candle to those movies.

I remember watching the first Paranormal Activity back in 2009 in a crowded theater in San Antonio. Up until that time I'd never truly been scared by a movie before, except for with The Exorcist and even that wasn't all that scary. Paranormal Activity was the first movie to truly frighten me and cause me to lose sleep. The second film was much the same except much, much scarier. The third film, although it went in a different direction then the first, managed to breathe new life into the franchise and give us some unique and innovative techniques in order to deliver scares in a different manner than its predecessors.

With the fourth installment of what is otherwise a great horror franchise the creators seem to have taken all the criticism from the first three movies to heart, specifically that there isn't enough action, it's too slow, and nothing really happens until the end. To compensate for all the haters, they decide for this film to go all in from the very beginning. No longer are we straining our eyes for multiple nights simply to see a door movie a LITTLE bit, or a shadow cross over the camera lens, or for the pool robot to climb out of the pool inexplicably. The agonizingly slow build up and extreme tension that made the first three films so great (for those of us that actually enjoyed them, that is) is replaced with a more upbeat, fast pace scare more reminiscent of mainstream horror films then its independent roots. Even for its two hour running time (approximately) the film seems rushed as it tries to cram in as many creepy scares as possible, all at the expense (in my opinion) of pacing and tension. I thought the first and second movie especially were extremely good for the very fact that they gave us so little to work with; a bump in the night, a squeaky door, a chandelier swaying ever so slightly or a pan falling from its rack. I'm not going to give away the scares in this movie, but I will say they aren't nearly as subtle as before.

Another thing that somewhat lessened the scares in this movie was that it relied a lot on the people in the film to deliver the scares and not the "entity" from the first three. Sure, it makes its appearances and does its usual "activities" but to a much greater degree than in the first three it uses mere mortals to do its dirty work. I don't know about you, but no matter how scary you make someone's face look, it's not NEARLY as scary as some paranormal entity. That's not to say that "Toby" doesn't do his share, just to say that he goes to the bench way too often instead of stealing the show for himself. At the same time there was very little innovation with this film. The first movie took the POV angle and ran with it, the second film expanded it with more cameras, and the third gave us that great rotating camera work. Besides a nifty little trick with an Xbox Kinect there isn't really any innovation to speak of here. It's pretty much the second movie with computer camera's taking the place of security camera's, and a Kinect. Nothing special, nothing new, and nothing worth speaking of.

This far into the franchise one would normally expect the series to be wrapped up by now, or at least to have some of the major questions answered. Unfortunately this film doesn't wrap up anything, instead it merely sets the stage for ANOTHER movie that will no doubt be coming out sometime next year. More questions (and really baffling ones at that) are raised by this movie then answered. Don't expect to find out what this coven is up to, what kind of deal they made, WHY exactly this entity wants Hunter and what it intends to do with him, or anything. Practically nothing is explained while more and more mystery is piled on us in order to make us watch the next movie. I don't want to be spoon fed answers like horror movies are want to do, but a little clarification would be nice. Just a LITTLE bit, no?

On the plus side, the last ten to fifteen minutes of the movie are, as usual, scary. Not AS scary as the finals for one, two, or three, but still scary. The characters aren't really all that great except for the two leads (Ben and Alex) were decently acted. The parents were nobodies throughout the entire movie, barely putting in any face time and only serving as cannon fodder for the entity and his minions. They seemed to merely fill in roles instead of playing actual characters. They might as well have been props.

In conclusion I must say that this movie was a major letdown. I loved the first three films, with the second being my favorite, but the series has lost steam. If you're a Paranormal fan like myself then its worth a watch when it comes out on video, but definitely not anything worth speaking of. Sorry guys, it just wasn't that great.

Replay value; low.

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More Paranormal Activity 4 (2012 fi... reviews
review by . October 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A Sub-Par
It seems like the “Paranormal Activity” movie franchise is fast becoming an October-Halloween tradition as with the “Saw”, “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” movie franchises in the past. Who can blame the filmmakers? The supernatural movie franchise does have its high points when it comes to generating scares even when the story is not as solid as one can hope for. Well, “Paranormal Activity 4” is once again co-produced by its creator, …
review by . October 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Paranormal Activity 4 is a contrived, unoriginal, unmotivated effort that cruelly belabors an already exhausted premise. This comes after I begrudgingly recommended the previous film for being more entertaining than the one that came before it, a disappointing prequel that couldn’t live up to the unprecedented success of the film that started it all. “This movie works as a standalone horror film,” I wrote one year ago, “but …
review by . February 11, 2013
      Who knew it was so easy to spot a ghost?  The last I knew those knuckleheads on Ghost Hunters Uber-Global have yet to definitely catch so much as the shadow of a legitimate spectre on tap – EVPs not included – but these PARANORMAL ACTIVITY folks just have the spirits popping up left and right.  Granted, maybe they’re not all demons – at this juncture, who can tell?  Still, if you’re looking for some harmless fun and equally harmless …
About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #58
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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