It’s October and I’ve already seen everything else playing in the theater so I found myself, begrudgingly, in the latest from the “Paranormal Activity” franchise – “Paranormal Activity 4” this weekend.
The story takes place several years after the events of Paranormal Activity 1 and 2 and, like the previous three films, revolves around found footage. But unlike 2007’s “Paranormal Activity 1,” which scared moviegoers in droves, there were only a few tense moments that translated into truly scary situations. In fact, I may have only jumped twice throughout the 88-minute flick – it seems “Paranormal Activity 3” directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (both from the famed “Catfish”) have come back to the franchise more concerned with collecting a paycheck than taking the time to develop a hauntingly scary movie.
In the film, single-mother Katie (Katie Featherston), who had previously murdered her boyfriend, sister, brother-in-law and kidnapped her infant nephew reappears in small town Henderson, Nev. Shortly thereafter, Katie’s hospitalized and has to leave her son Robbie in the care of the neighbors.
Enter lead character, and newcomer, Kathryn Newton (whom I mistakenly thought to be AnnaSophia Robb the entire film), who plays Alex, the virginal victim of the film who notices that strange things begin to happen after Robbie moves in with her family. From here, the movie wanders about as Alex rigs the household computers to record nightly activity with the help of her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively– easily the most well-written character in the film). But what follows fails to be truly scary. Instead it’s disappointing and the story fails to take unexpected twists or turns until the final seconds of the film.
Is it too much to ask that the franchise skip a year or two and create a “Paranormal Activity 5” script that I don’t see coming? Something that would scare the living heck of me – a simple thing I used to expect from the P.A. films.
The verdict: “Paranormal Activity 4” failed for me throughout until the final minutes, where it finally “went somewhere” worthwhile. Altogether a wholly unfulfilling movie.
Opened: October 19, 2012
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Sprague Grayden, Aiden Lovekamp