Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Stephen Dunham, Katie Featherston and Matt Shively
Writers: Christopher Landon and Chad Feehan

Paranormal Activity 4 is probably one of the biggest disappointments in a long time. For me, the Paranormal Activity series just kept on improving. The third movie nicely wrapped things up and yet there was a great potential for any further films. Number four, however, comes along and just continues doing the same old thing. Worse, this movie actually seems to take multiple steps backwards in quality and story.

The real head scratching thing is that directors Joost and Schulman previously made the third and, in my opinion, best of the series. Multiple factors seemed to combine to make this new iteration a bad movie but I just don’t understand how the same authors can create both the best and worst films in a series.

My biggest problem is that this movie focuses on a new family and the story that has been built up over the last three movies is moved into the background. Complexity is thrown into the script without any real need, there seems to be twists just for the sake of twists and even then, these haphazard plot devices are telegraphed to a point where there is no possibility of surprise. Added to this are characters that we now need to get to know - yet have no endearing qualities - and all that’s left are the scares.

This then leads to the next problem. As the audience you’ve seen all this before and with this series the found footage has really run its course. With nothing substantial to grab onto, you really feel the weight of franchise just going through the motions. The one thing I’ll give to Joost and Schulman is that they do come up with an interesting use for an Xbox 360’s Kinect attachment.

Funky Kinecto Vision
This is the first Paranormal Activity where I haven’t really cared for the actors. I can’t say they are horrible, but they seem to be written as if they are the stupidest people around. All the classic horror movie clich√©’s are covered. I swear I think I even heard one of the characters say ‘they’ll be right back.’ Katie Featherstone does return and it was nice to see her reprise the role of Katie (unique naming there), but she isn’t in it nearly enough.

At this point in the game I was hoping that Paranormal Activity might ditch some of its found footage origins and try to take the story naturally forward. However by sticking with the found footage the series treads water. I fully understand that this is all about making money but the budget for this film was five million, so I think they had enough to try some different things. I guess at the end of the day I find myself in morning as I think of how this movie signifies the death of the series.

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