Oct 24, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

I think we can all agree that to a certain extent there are just way too many sequels out there. Hollywood thrives on established properties though which are safe in comparison to developing a new property. Paranormal Activity is also an extremely profitable property and the movies only cost a few million to make. It also helps that the return on them is pretty incredible. PA4 was able to make almost 29 times more than its initial budget which is bananas. No one can deny that Paranormal Activity movies are a smart investment.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return for this installment which would appear to be a good thing. Paranormal Activity 3 after all was surprisingly good for a third movie in what could've just turned into a tired horror franchise. It wasn't the case though, so they deserve the opportunity to continue their work.


Genre: horror
Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Produced by: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Akiva Goldsman, etc.
Written by: Christopher Landon
Music by: N/A
Running time: 88 minutes
Production company: Paramount Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Solana Films, etc.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Central Partnership, United International Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $5,000,000
Box office: $142,817,992 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Aiden Lovekamp, Brady Allen, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham, Katie Featherston



Alex Nelson (Kathryn Newton) is a regular teenage girl living with her younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) and her parents. (Alexondra Lee and Stephen Dunham) A single mother and her young son happen to move in across the street. The boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) is around Wyatt's age and is definitely a pretty weird kid. He's forced to move in temporarily with Alex's family due to his mother falling ill and having to stay at the hospital. Strange things start happening around the house as soon as he does and Wyatt also begins to not be himself.


Paranormal Activity 4 strikes me pretty much right away as unnecessary. There are some uninteresting twists that explain why things are happening to a seemingly innocent family but there's really no point. Clearly we've reached franchise fatigue here. There was only so much juggling you could do to make the story involving the same evil force continue and it worked for three movies. As a fan though it isn't easy to watch the disappointing story of PA4 play out.

That's not to mention that Paranormal Activity 4 isn't scary. Like, at all. It just isn't and that's the most disappointing aspect of the movie. Each of the previous movies despite recycling some of the material have enough scary moments to satisfy pretty much anyone. There's nothing like that at all in PA4. Everything is pretty much as predictable as could be and there's a big lack of heart racing, nail-biting tension.

In terms of the found footage style of Paranormal Activity 4, footage is captured by laptops placed around the house. When it comes to filming with a handheld camera in the beginning of the movie, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reason as to why the characters are filming at all. Overall it's just an unnatural effort. There are a couple of new ideas for scares with the Xbox Kinect for example, but there's just nothing all that interesting or scary.

There are also just way too many cheap jump scares that aggravated me the more the movie went on. Not only that, but pretty much all the scares dial up the volume to unpleasant levels just to get that easy reaction out of the viewer. PA4 loses the patience of its predecessors and comes off as lazy and unoriginal. One thing that just has to be mentioned too is the "tribute" to The Shining when Wyatt is riding on a near identical tricycle that Danny (Danny Lloyd) rides on in the hotel corridors. Just no, that has no place here.

In terms of characters, the new weird kid who moves in across the street unfortunately comes off as more comical than creepy. Kathryn Newton as Alex Nelson and Matt Shively as Ben are alright I suppose, but they don't feel as natural as past characters. I also have to criticize the overly dismissive parents. They ignore or don't believe Alex about anything bizarre that happens. But Alex is also pretty dumb for not showing her parents the ongoing footage of what she's recording with the laptops. She had more than enough proof to show her parents what's going on, but for some reason keeps the footage to herself.

Paranormal Activity 4 has many problems that plague bad horror movies. No real scares, an overabundance of jump scares, poor character decision making and a pretty bad story. I thought it was a good thing that Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman were returning, but they're clearly stretching it with Paranormal Activity 4. I'll be seeing Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones soon enough and I'm not really expecting much. I'm a fan of Paranormal Activity, but if PA4 is any indication, we've reached the end of good PA movies. 



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