WRETCHED REVIEWS: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

 

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

Starring Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively and Katie Featherston

Directed by Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost

Written by Christopher Landon

Paramount

 

Rue Morgue Magazine received a lot of incredulous feedback when they published my review of the first Paranormal Activity film. I had written that it was the scariest filmgoing experience I had ever had; that was misinterpreted as “Paranormal Activity is the scariest movie ever made.”

It is true: the Paranormal Activity films are best experienced in a movie theatre, which is why Paramount uses night vision footage of screaming preview audiences to hype each new film.

So it will be interesting to see how audiences react to PA4. The guy to my left at last night’s screening was talking, checking his email and texting throughout, and said, “Thank God that’s over” at the end, while the four teen guys to my right were vocal about their enthusiasm for each set piece. (“Bitch got owned!” greeted the death of one character.)

The plot goes like this: five years after the events of the first film, Katie (Featherston), who killed her sister and brother-in-law in PA3 and kidnapped her nephew Hunter, has moved across the street from 15-year-old Alex (Newton) and her family. Katie’s strange young son (?) Robbie (Brady Allen) moves in temporarily with Alex’s family after Katie is apparently taken away in an ambulance. Strangely formal and just plain odd, Robbie bonds with Alex’s six-year-old brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). The activity begins (hint: look for Katie’s cat clock to gauge when), strange happenings happen at Katie’s house while she is allegedly hospitalized, and it all climaxes with some genuinely disturbing night vision visuals.

To say more would ruin the surprises directors Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost (PA3, Catfish) have in store. They do a reasonably good job of keeping the shocks and scares fresh, given that at this point in the series, most of us think we know what to expect. Yes, the found footage conceit gets stretched to its maximum, with Katie often toting around a laptop to show her boyfriend Ben (Shively) what is going on via webcam, but that is easy enough to overlook.

Funnier than any other PA film, PA4, as a film journalist acquaintance of mine remarked “answers as many questions [about the PA universe] as Prometheus does” about the Alien universe. That’s fair. The cult aspect introduced in PA3 gets some play, but not enough to answer any questions definitively. That means that PA5 is a certainty should this one make enough money this weekend.

Rating: 3/5

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