<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman. Starring Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Matt Shivley
I found the first PA4 exceedingly dull actually and didn’t watch the second one. But Paranormal Activity 3 was quite a scary fun watch so I looked forward to 4. It doesn’t really qualify as a good film but it has its fright factor, which will make you jump.
Probably outgrowing its welcome, Paranormal Activity 4 continues from the second part where Katie (Katie Featherston) who was in the original and subsequently gets possessed and then abducts her nephew Hunter in the second part.
Cut to a new family with sexy teen daughter Alex (Kathryn Newton), her funny boy-friend Ben (Matt Shively) and Alex’s little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) and their mysterious neighbours: Katie and her son Robbie (Brady Allen).
We’ve had all sorts of handycams and video recording apparatus used in the films so far and now it’s time for webcams and mobile phone cameras as well as Sony’s Connect video game console (in an interesting green star field cam effect). Needless to say Apple gets some good advertising in this one. Weird little child Robbie (adopted) becomes friends with Wyatt (who’s also adopted) when Katie is mysteriously rushed off to the hospital and her ‘son’ has to stay with the neighbours. And then things start going bump in the night. Alex and Ben decide to rig the house with laptops and figure out what’s happening.
Paranormal Activity doesn’t give you lots of scares. The frights and jump-in-your-seat moments are rationed out carefully with a steady build up over the course of the movie. Thuds, bangs and knocking sounds permeate the house giving you a jolt now and then. There’s no eerie music or shock sound effects, which is pretty cool. A knife will leave a kitchen table and speedily head up to the ceiling. Simple things…
What’s unfortunate about Paranormal Activity 4 is that the protagonists seem to have lost the plot because they hardly ever go back to watching the footage they’ve recorded. So the directors may have missed something there. What they haven’t missed is the humour inherent in a scary movie. So the audience gets startled and then laughs. Or they laugh to relieve some of that tension. Sure the film has plot holes and isn’t as scary as you’d hope but it’s a lot more effective than some of our so-called ‘horror’ films with gore and heads being decapitated.
Apparently, there’s a scene after the end credits hinting there will be a Paranormal Activity 5, which I missed. I’m hoping that one will be more like number 3 (review here), which you should definitely watch before you dismiss the series.