Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

paranormal activity 4 poster review
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Continues to come up with clever new ideas to shoot the footage

Needs a real demon at this point, plot clarification

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Paranormal Activity 4

Studio:  Room 101

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  October 19, 2012

MPAA Rating:  R

paranormal activity 4 xbox kinect

Speak to the Almighty XBox Kinect!

When Doug (Stephen Dunham), Holly (Alexondra Lee), Alex (Kathryn Newton), and Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) get new neighbors in their home in Henderson, Nevada things seem to start getting strange.  The neighbor boy’s mother (Katie Featherston) is rushed to the hospital, and Robbie (Brady Allen) comes to stay with the family.  Alex starts noticing her brother acting strange and odd and scary occurrences throughout the house.  When she has her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) secretly tap into the family’s computer cams, the horror is recorded and the secret of her brother’s adoption might be unveiled.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Paranormal Activity 4 follows the events of Paranormal Activity 2 from 2010  (2011’s Paranormal Activity 3 served as a prequel to the first film).  The movie like most of the Paranormal Activity films was a big box office draw but ravaged by critics.

I have to say, the old quote “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” definitely applies to the Paranormal Activity franchise.  Each time I see a trailer for the new film, I think “maybe this is the one where they get it right”.  The reason being is that most of the movies are on the fringe of being something good, but end up failing…Paranormal Activity 4 is possibly the biggest failure of them all.

paranormal activity alex levitated kathryn newton

You have light as a feather down, but you’re kind of failing at stiff as a board

First the redundancy of the films is starting to wear thin.  The movie always sets up with a couple of weird happenings and then all hell breaks loose in the last ten minutes and leaves the viewer with a very unresolved ending.  This is due to the “natural” nature of the films and the found footage aspect which doesn’t allow much plotting.  Here, there weren’t even the patented forced jumps of the first three films and things like disappearing knives, blurs on cameras, and kids running around at night are getting old.

The second problem is that there is no monster.  Through the films, they’ve established that the demon haunting the family is invisible.  They are starting to transform Katie into a demon more and more to give the viewers something, but I want a real demon.  The makers should have taken something from their Insidious film and given the movie a really cool demon at some point to change the game and give the film new dimension…the cult aspect added to the third film doesn’t pay out.

I also am a bit unsure by the whole adoption thing.  I’m assuming that the parents had some sort of deal with Katie…maybe.  Then I also was unclear who the other boy was…was he supposed to be a cult member’s kid or was he really Katie’s kid also (I don’t see how).  I know the filmmakers wanted some mystery, but it mostly didn’t make much sense.

paranormal activity 4 katie featherson demon

Hey, Katie…you’re looking pretty fly

What the films do get right is that they do a good job giving new and different means to shooting the found footage.  Here, laptop cameras are secretly used, and the Xbox 360’s Kinect motion detector adds a fun aspect.  The movie is paired with some reasonably decent kid actors who manage to seem halfway “real”.

Paranormal Activity 4 is a bit worse than what you’d expect if you have been on the fence for the franchise as I’ve been.  I really do want them to be good, but they always disappoint.  A few people who enjoyed the series also found this one dull and tedious so I’m guessing that the whole plot needs some resolution.  With the success, Paranormal Activity 4 is followed by the spin-off tie-in Paranormal Activity:  The Marked Ones in 2014.

Related Links:

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity:  The Marked Ones (2014)

Paranormal Activity:  The Ghost Dimension (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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