Even though this movie shows that the "Paranormal Activity" franchise still has the slightest bit of life left in it, "Paranormal Activity 4" definitely displays a sense of "we've kind of run the gamut on the amount of paranormal effects and/or situations one can catch on camera" from its directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman.
Synopsis: Basically, in this installment, you guessed it, more paranormal activities occur in yet another large and expensive-looking suburban house. OK, so there is a story here, which attempts to uncover the whereabouts of Hunter, the child taken at the end of "Paranormal Activity 2", but it's pretty weak, and really shouldn't be focused on at all if you are planning to see this movie and well, enjoy it. So let's get right to the point. Is "Paranormal Activity 4" scary? Well, aside from two or three scenes which deliver visually intriguing shock value, the answer would be no. BUT, when seen in a packed theater (which is the only way that anyone could possibly enjoy any of these films) "Paranormal Activity 4" effectively uses the silent, silent, silent...LOUD, LOUD, LOUD...silent, silent, silent...LOUD, LOUD, LOUD modern horror technique, which does equate to a movie that is rather entertaining, or entertaining enough to keep even the most flippant audience member on board until the very last scene (a last scene which actually may in fact be the best of the lot).
Why horror movie sequels aren't scary: "Paranormal Activity 4" has much of the same effects (doors opening by themselves, people being lifted off of the ground and dragged down the hall, doors closing by themselves, etc.) if not more than the first three did. So why have these movies become progressively less scary? Well, that question has a simpler answer than you may think. Like a tale as old as time, it seems like once the big production companies get their hands on these (mostly independent) horror films, they stupidly crank out sequels which contain not only similar (if not the same) effects, but stories that are excruciatingly repetitious, only cranked up to 11 each time. Example: If in the first film the monster kills one teenage couple having sex, then in the sequels Jason, or Freddy, or Michael must make their way from orgy to orgy, ripping through piles of faceless, unwed teens. Poor killer, that sounds tiresome. In terms of "Paranormal Activity 4", many of the effects are ones audiences have seen in its predecessors or its emulators, and thusly may be seen as unimpressive by those who are looking for that fresh new terrifying visual. By the way, I know that there are some of you out there saying to yourself "I don't know what Markus is talking about. I didn't find any of the "Paranormal Activity" movies scary at all." And to those I say, if you didn't think even the first "Paranormal Activity" was scary, then why are you reading a review of "Paranormal Activity 4"?
Final Thought: So yeah, there are a few "give me a break" moments in this film (mainly the ones surrounding the Xbox Kinect tracking dot sequences, as well as the scenes containing heavy amounts of child acting). And yes, at times, it seems that Christopher Landon's script doesn't seem at all preoccupied with relating the storyline of this forth installment back to its predecessors. And don't get me started on the fact that the major scene from the trailer that I have been bombarded with for the past month or so isn't even in the movie. But, what did you expect?! Its "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4"! The fact is, "Paranormal Activity 4" is not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. But if you want to talk on a purely horror genre level, if there is any real success in this film, it lies within the final 3 minutes, which are rather scary and effective if not analyzed too deeply. I would even go so far as to say that said final 3 minutes are so delightfully thrilling, that it will work to distract most audiences from how little scares the eighty-something minutes leading up to this ending actually contains. So, in the end, if you are planning on seeing this movie, probably the most important thing to be aware of is that this is one which falls under the category of, the more you disregard the stories gaping plot holes, the more you will enjoy the film (up to a point, I guess).
Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
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