The “found footage” films have been big business for the horror industry and none more so than the Paranormal Activity franchise, which returns with part 4 in the series. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) reinvigorated the films at the box office, so sticking with the “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it” method, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost are hired again to take joint director duties on part 4.
Set five years after the end of Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), when Katie Featherston killed her family and took their baby Hunter never to be seen again, the story now focuses on teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family, who start to experience weird happenings after they allow the neighbours’ child, Robbie, to come over and play.
By now we all know what to expect from these films, lots of time spent on set up and then loud bangs followed by quick glances of something in the corner of the screen. Once again this trend continues, but it does try to focus more on the storyline now that we dealing with a completely new family.
The acting from all the leads is perfectly fine and possibly the best in the series, also the direction is pretty much spot on how it should be. The problem is the formulaic story and the constantly rehashing of the same ideas that didn’t even feel fresh back in 2007 when the original Paranormal Activity was released. Tell us, how many times do we need to see a swinging chandelier? Or an animal jump out at an opportune moment?
One other problem with Paranormal Activity 4 is the amount of product placement throughout the film. We appreciate that product placement does help with financing of films; however this must be one of the worst we have ever seen.
Paranormal Activity 4 leaves the full on scares until the final ten minutes, but by then it’s too late as it was all too boring. Of course, Paramount Pictures have ensured that their cash cow doesn’t die here as the ending is completely set up to continue the franchise, but we do have to wonder: who really cares?
Mark has awarded Paranormal Activity 4 two Torches of Truth.