Paranormal Activity 4 Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman Cast: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins Rating: R Release Date: October 19, 2012
PLOT: It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter. Once they reemerge with different identities, a teenage girl and her family witness strange events.
WHO'S IT FOR? New fans need not apply. This is for those who just need another fix in the Paranormal saga.
Let's talk about the taste in my mouth. Paranormal Activity significantly scared me in a new way. Paranormal Activity 2 continued to scare me, and in addition to that I thought it was pretty clever with how they built a prequel/sequel around the first film. Paranormal Activity 3 had some good scares in the prequel, and I was impressed with the retro quality of their found footage. All in all, the Paranormal Activity franchise had left a good taste in my mouth, so to speak. When you have a good taste, you want another bite. When you have a bad taste, you think about stopping. Paranormal Activity 4 has me thinking about being done with this "meal."
Katie and Hunter (we're going to now call him Robbie) live next door to a typical family. Something happens to Katie (barely explained) and now Robbie needs to stay with this typical family for a few days. Strange things start happening. The previous installments of the Paranormal films have had creative reasons to start video taping. Now that this story takes place in 2011, they give a lazy, albeit believable reason. Alex is a teenager, and she's recording everything because that's what teens do. The problem is, there is nothing interesting about this. Alex and her boyfriend Ben have a fun relationship, good for a few laughs, but otherwise there isn't much fresh with this story. Speaking of fresh, Fresh Prince was right, parents just don't understand. So, when Alex feels like things are going bump in the night, her parents don't want to listen. The new thing in this found footage would be the Microsoft Xbox Kinect. There is a night-vision feature that sprays tiny green dots across a room. I spent many moments scanning the big screen to see if I was missing something.
The scares play out, both in day and night. The story takes some semblance. Robbie wants to get Alex's brother, Wyatt, on "Team Scary." There's a bit of a switcheroo that needs explaining. I can't explain it to you, because I don't feel like the film does. Something happens with Wyatt, Robbie and Katie. When I say it needs more explanation, I'm actually saying there is a hole in this plot that can only be filled with sequels, deleted scenes or commentary from the directors. That's not a good thing. It also doesn't really make sense that the demon in the room is once again taking his time to scare. This is especially apparent involving a kitchen knife.
Sure, I just jumped a little. It doesn't feel like the other times though. It's that taste in my mouth. I'm no longer excited for next October, when I am willing to be freaked out by this franchise. Paranormal Activity 4 doesn't push anything forward, and now I'm afraid this horror franchise is going to become bloated like so many others.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10