Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) (Movie Review)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) (Movie Review)
Directed By: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

The Prologue
I liked Paranormal Activity. I kind of liked Paranormal Activity 2. When it came to the third film I was a little critical over its overall presentation due to it being a prequel that took place in the 80s, yet it was in HD and widescreen, but I still didn’t bury the film.  So here we are with the next installment, Paranormal Activity 4. And while this movie didn’t do as well on its opening weekend as the last two films it did finish first and set forth the motions already for a part five. But I’m afraid now having seen the fourth film that I am having trouble finding anything all that nice to say about it.

The Movie
The story takes place in 2011, five years after Katie killed her boyfriend Micah, sister Kristi, her husband Daniel and took their baby, Hunter. Story focuses on Alex and her mom, experiencing weird stuff since the new neighbors moved in the town. Trust me when I say that this probably isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. And it probably will be what we end up seeing with the next one and so on and so forth.

While it is clear that this franchise hasn’t run out of steam (well, not that much yet) at the box office, I do believe it has ran out of steam creatively. Overall I found this entry into the Paranormal Activity franchise to be the worst from a storyline standpoint of the bunch. While I do find some good in the film I think it ultimately falls flat as a film when you look at the bigger picture. One improvement however is the fact that the film at least does somewhat of a good job looking more legit this time around. The camera work can be shaky and people’s heads can be missing from the visual at times. That at least if nothing else makes it look more like it was actually shot by teens and in shady ways. That and the fact that our teen actors are at least half way likeable might be the only real good this film brings.

As far as the actual plot, it is about as simple as you could get. And I don’t think I’d be alone in stating that at this point I feel the stuff with Katie and her whole family backstory has well jumped the shark. Is she taken over by some evil demon after all this time? Is she just evil with magical “toss people around with her mind” type powers? If she is taken over by evil demons, isn’t cool that they at least have her trade in the wife beater and shorts for a change of clothes this time? It might sound like nitpicking at this point, but nothing seems to be really adding up. They make like everything will always make more sense when you see the next one but the questions are building. And after seeing the somewhat mess of a plot we get here I don’t think things will ever add up in a fashion to make it all alright at the end of this franchise. A franchise they will run into the ground and get every dime out of they can. I know others like Friday the 13th have done the same, but you at least had creative kills and nudity to look at. There isn’t gore in these and everyone’s clothes stay on.

I also want to bring up the fact that the product placement has gotten out of hand here as well. They take every chance they get to name drop electronics and other stuff that I’m sure was just done in order to make money from it. Does this have anything to do with the plot? No, it does not but when it becomes obvious and noticeable it starts being a problem. Even if we look over that we still have a franchise that is counting on the same jumps and spooky methods it has used since the original. And this time around we have an ending that just doesn’t do much good for anyone. I know we will get a part five next year, but I think they need to really work on pulling this thing out of the dumps. If we set the fair acting and more realistic style of shooting aside, we still are left with a film that just doesn’t bring its A-game and disappoints.

The Conclusion
Yeah, I was a bit disappointed with this one. Maybe it just goes back to the fact it didn’t seem like a step forward overall, it just seemed like it was running in place with what we have already seen out of this series of films. Regardless, I think the next film really needs to try to change things up in order to save face. Sure it finished first on opening weekend but that wasn’t by any number equal to the last two. If the hardcore fans are getting sick of the same old same old, I feel even the mainstream fans might soon be looking elsewhere during the Halloween season if this is as good as it’s going to get with Paranormal Activity.

The Rating (5.5/10)