[Paranormal Activity 4]
Synopsis:It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and a suburban family witness strange events in their neighborhood when a woman and a mysterious child move in.
My Thoughts:Aw come on, man!
Review:The "Paranormal Activity" movies started off with a terrific initial installment. But once "Paranormal Activity 2" was released, the series has gone off track a bit. I cannot tell you how annoyed I was at part 3 being a prequel. Obviously, it was one of those situations where "everyone else was doing it." So the "PA" filmmakers "did it". By "it"...I mean making part 3 a prequel. Many genre franchises are doing this these days. But the "Paranormal Activity" films were supposed to be the standard-bearer for "different", "new", and "genuinely terrifying".
You could make the arguement, that they "sold out"...by making part 3 a prequel. And normally, when a prequel is done, it gets us further intensified for part 4. Which we of course know, will carry on from the cliffhanger ending part 2 left us with. I had hoped "Paranormal Activity 4" would be better than part 3. But as it turns out, it wasn't. And the scares, and intense-suspense that 1 and 2 had? Has officially left this series. So what are we left with? A franchise of movies that will undoubtedly continue on until the box office cash stops flowing. And that my friends...is not a good thing.
"PA 4" picks up where 2 left off. We're in the year 2011 now in this movies universe. And Katie and a strange little boy named Robbie live in a normal upscale suburban neighborhood. One day, Katie falls ill..."allegedly" anyways...(more on that later). And Robbie is taken in by the family across the street. We're never really given an explanation as to why, especially considering the family across the street already has a teenage daughter, her boyfriend who's like...always over there so much that he might as well live there. And a young son of their own. Who's close to Robbie's age.
But I guess one more kid on the family payroll couldn't hurt. It's also strange that no one seems to know (or care for that matter), what Katie has come down with. Hell, most of the family don't even know Katie is the name of Robbie's legal guardian. Anyways, I guess when you're up to part 4, you can just make sh*t up as you go along. But we all know in real life that unless it's family, people don't just welcome new mouths to feed into their home willy nilly. So since this is a "horror film" after all, it isn't long before weird stuff starts to happen at this family's home.
Shadows, unexplained noises, bumps, etc. But these moments are far less scary than in the previous 2 movies. All I know is, in the first two films...when that text hit the screen that read..."night #2" or "night #3"...I gulped. Wondering what else would happen. The theatrical experience was freaking intense back then. Now...they seem to have cheapened things. Gone, are the scary and well-timed slams, bumps, and stomping up the stairs. And in its place, are a few shadows, and some moments where a night-vision camera catches some "allegedly", "spooky shit"...that the kids decide to play back the next day, and make a big hoo-hah over.
Alex (the films lead female character), doesn't seem too gung-ho about warning her family of any impending danger though. But to be fair, the "demon"...this time around, seems to be more low-profile. Which ties into the films plot that whatever plans the demon has for Hunter and Katie...are close to coming to fruition. So I guess he doesn't wanna make any new enemies. But then again, when you have seen the display of power of this thing in the first two movies, and the third. Who exactly is gonna stop it? There doesn't seem to be any priests for miles, and the main characters are about as bright as a pet rock. But I guess tact is everything?
Even for creatures from the great beyond? "shrugs". So this low profile attitude, keeps the weird goings-ons in the house to a minimum at best. Although there are two cool scenes where the entity attached to Robbie tries to take one character out with a falling chandelier, and another where a butcher knife literally vanishes into thin air. Only to be used by the evil entity in a late-night-homicide-attempt on another main character. But everything else is pretty boring and uneventful. And again, I think this is because the story now is...Katie snatching hunter in part 2, is part of some larger plan.
Obviously involving the demon possessing and taking up residence in Hunter's body. So since it's close to fulfilling it's plan, why snap anymore necks or drag anymore unsuspecting victims into the basement? Of course, this wouldn't be a "Paranormal Activity" film without some sort of 'twist'. And the twist here is that Katie and Alex's little brother have some sort of "connection". I won't give it away, but lets just say it's been used in many horror films before. So this isn't the first time we've seen it, and it certainly won't be the last.
But the twist doesn't pack any worthwhile punch, and neither does most of this movie. But atleast Alex and her family aren't as annoying as the family from part 2. But as usual, they don't realize the danger they're in until it's too late. And that sets up a finale which seems super-rushed and really does not know how to set up or add in new caviats. The final lets say...10 minutes of this movie? Are rehashes of the finales of parts 1-3.
And as far as franchise ranked endings go? It is by far the worst. And the cheesiest too, as some..."unexpected visitors" show up in the finale to apparently scare the sh*t out of us the audience, and who's left of Alexes family as well. Those attempts fail however, as the set up for all of this is really weak, and just seems to come out of nowhere. And to make matters worse, it's revealed that Katie's "illness" was faked around mid film. Unfortunately, the scene where this is revealed, has the potential for atleast a high "creep" factor.
But instead it falls flat, and just comes off as awkward. Making our heroes (mainly Alex and her family)...look like total idiots. And by the way, how exactly does one fake an illness and then escape the hospital without being searched for? Or without it atleast making the local news? I am close to calling for the studio to stop making these movies. I've enjoyed the series through parts 1 and 2. 3 was iffy, but four was just not even trying.
People see these movies to see what mischief and frights will be delivered during those nighttime scenes. Where everyone is asleep, and some unlucky family member comes downstairs for a cup of water. But if those scenes this time around pack ZERO punch? Then wtf am I spending my money on exactly? Home Movies? "Paranormal Activity 5" has already been announced. And with that being said, hopefully "5" returns to the genuine terror and butterflies that parts 1 through 2 induced into most of its audiences. Because if not, this sh*t is starting to get old...quick!
THE GOOD:The chandelier scene had impact, as did the magical vanishing butcher knife sequences. There's also an intriguing but partially bungled scene near the end where Alexes mother encounters the demon downstairs. The scene was interesting to watch, but bungled as well because it lacked the proper effects and some audience members looked lost at what exactly happened.
THE BAD:Just no genuine scares here. If you're not watching this in dolby surround sound, even the butcher knife scene and the chandelier scene will feel weak. The twist ending was copied from too many other occult-related horror flicks, and the overall ending had no punch to it. Also those nighttime scenes? Which is the franchise bread and butter? All of them fell flat this time around. There was also the potential for a separate plot arc in the film surrounding a strange symbol on Robbie's body. This plot point too is mishandled, as it's mentioned once or twice within the films 90 minutes. And then languishes in limbo until the movies final 5 minutes decide to revisit it. What a waste!
OVERALL:1 and a half stars out of four.
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