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Movie Reviews

Paranormal Activity 4



pa4Released: 2012

Directed By: Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman

Starring: Matt Shively, Katie Featherston

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Just when the bloodthirsty cinematic masses got over the fatigue of Saw, Paranormal Activity had to swoop in and take over the mantle of the ‘franchise that possesses you’ for a number of years. Now into its fourth installment, the timeframe of such horrific goings on has given many whiplash with such severe jumps between past and present. Bringing us bang up to date, directors Joost and Schulman (Catfish) return after their well received previous entry as they pick up the story from the end of ‘2’.

Hardcore fans will be aware that constant threat Katie (Katie Featherston) kidnapped her beloved nephew Hunter and brought an untimely end to the remainder of her sister’s family. Under the assumption they’ve disappeared without a trace, ‘4’ opens its account a few years later revolving the plot around witty teen blonde Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her computer savvy boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively).

Clearly addicts of Skype, they continuously exchange c-grade banter through the medium of video chat. Before long, their laptops will be put to more unsettling use. As the ‘mother figure’ of the new neighbours across the street ends up in hospital, Alex’s gullable parents (Stephen Dunham and Alexondra Lee) waste little time in taking in the tormented child Robbie (Brady Allen) into their care temporarily. Instantly concerned by Robbie’s general weirdness and disturbing shenanigans with Alex’s fair haired brother, Alex and Ben take it upon themselves to rig the house with cameras aplenty to capture every moment. Cue the inevitable..

In a fierce attempt to stay ‘down with the kids’, Paranormal Activity 4 has incorporated many technological devices such as X Box Kinect and various computer programs to aid its attempt to terrify. Whilst such an approach lacks genuine authenticity and terror compared to it’s predecessors, the franchise still retains it’s effective execution of playful moments (night vision alert!). It would be easy to label the film as an outlet for blatant product placement, but when big budget blockbusters are renowned for such dabbling.. it’s a forgivable flaw.

The introduction of likeable youthful protagonists helps the franchise transition comfortably into more tongue-in-cheek territory also, especially in it’s tension building with Newton and Shively an engaging pair. The film’s pacing is certainly the most measured and perhaps pedestrian out of the series, which may test certain audience member’s patience. But they are soon rewarded with a gutwrenching ‘will it/won’t it moment with a knife and a fright filled, impactful finale along with the ‘tried and trusted’ creaking doors/random bumps routine.

The poster teased ‘all the activity has led to this..’. Direct nods to the previous three may be consistently made, but you are still left with lingering questions and nagging inconsistencies. With such an emphatic finish here, you are left wondering.. where can Joost/Schulman possibly take this next?

Sure, Paranormal Activity 4 may lack the invention and pure nerve shredding terror of it’s earlier days. However, with a genre so obsessed with tedious and excessive gore fests aka torture porn in the current climate, ‘Activity’s forever solid and atmospheric brand of horror should be applauded. You could do alot worse this Halloween.. Perhaps a haunted house of your own? BOM BOM.. BOMMMM!

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