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Paranormal Activity 4 (2012 film)

The 4th movie in the franchise

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A Sub-Par "Activity" Compared to the Other Movies in the Franchise

  • Oct 22, 2012
It seems like the “Paranormal Activity” movie franchise is fast becoming an October-Halloween tradition as with the “Saw”, “Halloween” and “Friday the 13thmovie 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, Oren Peli, and seeks to continue the story it had pitched with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman at its helm once more. Let’s get right to the point, if you never dug any of the movies in the franchise, then you are better off watching something else.

                        Kathryn Newton in "Paranormal Activity 4."

True to what made the franchise successful, it continues with the documentary POV-style cinematography that gives this 4th installment the feeling of real footage and of a documentary. The film is a direct tie-in to the first two movies of the franchise, and this time around it takes us to the life of a girl named Alex (Kathryn Newton), her brother, Wyatt and her parents (played Alexondra Lee and Stephen Dunham). Alex’s boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) love to video chat and they noticed that there may be something odd about the kid next door, Robbie. Well, it seems like something bad had happened to Robbie’s mom who just happens to be Katie (played by Katie Featherston from the first movie) and she had fallen ill. Alex’s family generously takes in Robbie until she gets well, and this is when strange things begin to occur in their own house. Alex and Ben set up cameras to be recorded by computer all throughout the house. Something evil is now lurking in Alex’s house….


I really am uncertain how I feel about this latest installment. The things that made the original film become a box-office smash appear to be none-existent. I was rather stumped to find that the device that made it believable appears to have been totally abandoned. Sure, there is an explanation as to why Alex could never review the footage, but it certainly hampered the film’s pace and script. It looked a little too polished and despite the efforts to make it feel and look like ‘real footage’, I had major issues in buying into it. I mean, it is all well and good, but I thought that this new movie had nothing to offer that we haven’t been privy to the past three movies, and there were times that it felt a little too ‘in your face’ in the way it did the scares.

The first three movies were subtle in the delivery of the scares and it emulated creepiness, this 4th installment felt a little too familiar in the way it did those jump scares. Ok, I have to admit that there were about three credible scenes that can make one jump (one was seen in the trailer) and they felt rather unsettling. However the tricks in the film felt rather familiar that for someone who had seen a lot of these ‘paranormal footages’ (on TV shows), the film had nothing new to offer. I did feel that the film was resorting to the same formulas, but this time, I did not feel invested in the plot at all. It had problems connecting to an emotional level, and we all know that once one is disconnected to a horror film, one can never feel any sort of sympathy and feel any sort of dread for what would happen to the characters. This proves that to be successful in any horror film, one needs to be invested in emotional drama between the characters and/or the plot.

The characters in this film were your usual stereotypes, and there really is something that turned me off about the manner it made Alex and Ben the main protagonists. It should’ve been more focused on the family dynamics rather than what horror fans have come to see as ‘teen dynamics’. It surely became monotonous the more the film went forward to the final act which was to be expected, meant to introduce the final revelation. It all felt very familiar that it felt as if it borrowed from other movies such as “The Wicker Man” all wrapped around the devices that made the 3rd movie effective.

“Paranormal Activity 4” is easily the weakest movie of the franchise. It may not be one of the worst horror films I’ve seen (see “Survival of the Dead” and “The Messengers” if you want to see something really bad) but it really felt like an in-between story that provided little surprises and predictable twists. It just wasn’t up to par with the rest of the films in the franchise, and the scares were very uneven when it came to timing and execution. I guess, being an October tradition ended up with this film being rushed. Oh well…”Paranormal Witness” had episodes way creepier than this fourth movie.

RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

                        Poster art for "Paranormal Activity 4: The IMAX Experience."
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October 25, 2012
Spooky pictures!
October 23, 2012
I never loved the other ones so I will wait for the rental or something, great review man, you saved me some cash.
October 24, 2012
I wish I skipped this one and saw SINISTER instead...
More Paranormal Activity 4 (2012 fi... reviews
review by . February 08, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
...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 …
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 …
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