It’s been 5 years since the first PA movie was made, and since it’s big screen release in ’09 we’ve seen the PA franchise take the ‘Saw’ route and release a new one every year.
It’s been a gradually degrading affair in terms of quality though.
Where part 1 felt new and used its found footage angle to great effect, part 2 felt like a cheap remake of part 1 (and at a total cost of 15.000 dollars that’s quite an achievement) and part 3 saw a small increase in quality.
Just to recap for those of you not in the know: The Paranormal Activity series is basically a story about 2 sisters who are troubled by a demon. Part 1 saw ‘the demon’ taking over one of the sisters called Katie, with part 2 focussing on the now possessed Katie’s whereabouts and ending in the abduction of her sisters little boy and subsequent slaughter of his family.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman were then hired to helm part 3 which acted as a prequel to part 1 and 2, focussing on the sisters’ first encounter with ‘the demon’.
The same duo was kept on board for the making of part 4, creatively titled: Paranormal Activity 4, which now picks up the story after the events of part 2. So now that I know you won’t be confused in terms of the numbering, let’s get on with the review itself.
PA 4 is a sequel, a horror sequel, and if there’s one subgenre suffering from bad movies it’s this one. PA 4 doesn’t elevate itself amongst the bunch and apart from the Photoshopped poster and uninspirational title, it’s biggest flaw is probably that it’s just a repeat of things we’ve already experienced far too many times by now. It’s a ‘found footage’ flick, basically meaning that we are supposed to believe that someone filmed the things happening on screen by themselves, then conveniently died without killing it’s footage and leaving us in a big theatre filled with popcorn eating people ‘enjoying’ what he or she managed to put on tape.
My main gripe with ‘found footage’ lies in it’s believability, sure: I would film a UFO, I would probably even start filming a ghost in the right setting, but once those scenario’s turn into a possibly life threatening situation, fuck the camera, I’m out of there.
I know some of you will say: that’s hypocritical because you fault it on being unrealistic when it’s a horror movie to begin with. But that’s the point, to me: horror is supposed to have the strength to make you believe it’s real in order for it to be scary.
And having a demonic boy chasing me while im all the while filming it..well, that doesn’t convey an awful lot of realism.
PA 4 has it’s moments though, which mostly consist of jump scares, but it never really shines.
As a guy who has seen all parts up until now, the whole horror story that’s been told so far screams of huge inconsistencies. While the demon in part 1,2 and 3 (where it’s gotten it’s horrible name Toby) was seen as one entity, part 4 suggest that he’s some kind of leader of an army of demons but now Im running ahead of stuff.
The lead actress of it all is called Alex (Kathryn Newton) who is easily the best part of this movie. She lives in a suburban home with her mom and dad and little brother Wyatt. Early on we learn that Katie, now under a false name, has a home with her son Robbie (played by the creepy Brady Allen) across the street, and when Katie is rushed to a hospital, Robbie sleeps over for a few days and befriends Wyatt.
It’s filmed this time through videochat conversations that Alex has with her boyfriend to be Ben (Matt Shively), and it’s riddled with bad dialogue between the two. Basically their conversation consists of one topic: creepy Robbie, and even when things start taking a turn for the worse, they keep cool and even unnerved by it all.
This is basically 89 minutes of your movie, up until the point Katie returns and surprise surprise, we learn that Wyatt is actually Hunter, the baby Katy took from her sister.
So in the final few minutes we get some quick obligatory killing, we learn that Robbie is a new kid, Wyatt is Hunter from part 2, both are posessed by now, Katie is posessed, and in the final frame we see an army of posessed people in the backyard of Katie’s suburban home.
This franchise has now reached the point of no return, it’s big baddie Toby is never fleshed out, let alone explained properly, the story is lackluster at best and it’s such a shame to make that judgment.
There are a lot of great things that are present in this series that could make for a great movie, even if it is a 4th sequel, but boy do we need someone who can make sense out of all of this.
Paranormal Activity 4 is no good, aside from a good turn from Kathryn Brooks, this is just as shit as those cheap Asylum movies you can rent at Blockbuster.
I’ll watch the 5th one though, as I know a lot of you will do as well, to get another shot at being properly entertained by Toby and his gang of ghouls.