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Old 10-25-2012, 02:08 PM
Henry Joost's and Ariel Schulman's Paranormal Activity 4

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

My apologies right up front if this ends up sounding exactly like my review of the previous installment of the series (and the one before that, and the one before that). However, this is a consequence of remaking the same bad movie three times in a row while changing almost nothing about it. You would think the filmmakers and the studio would attempt to improve the quality each time, but unfortunately this had not been the case, only going to show that as long as they make money, quality doesn’t matter.

This time around, the film mainly revolves around Alex (Kathryn Newton), her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively), and her little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). When their neighbor across the street suddenly has to be taken to the hospital, her son Robbie (Brady Allen) comes to stay with Alex and her family for a few days. Strange things start to happen almost immediately like Robbie climbing into Alex’s bed in the middle of the night, as well as talking to someone in their living room that doesn’t appear to be there.

Just as suddenly as Robbie’s mother left, she reappears and takes him back with her. However, the strange occurrences continue, this time with Wyatt. He too starts talking to someone in the living room, discovering that his name actually used to be Hunter before he was adopted, which, if you remember where that name came from, begins to explain the unusual activity happening in their household.

This would normally be the point where I begin to discuss how the occurrences in the house start out small, such as a chair or door moving around on their own, and this does indeed happen for this film as well, but that is also where it ends. The big change for this entry in this very tired franchise is that the filmmakers chose not to try to scare their audience in the least. In the previous entries, at the very least, there were a few interesting moments. None of them have been scary, but there have been moments that made me wonder how they accomplished such a shot, such as a disappearing ghost figure or all the items of a kitchen suddenly falling and flying everywhere.

Sadly, the activity in this entry stays extremely low key instead of building up as it usually does. So if you’re hoping to see some really strange things happening or something that will scare you beyond a couple of objects moving around on their own, then you’re out of luck. It’s even sadder to have to say that the studio has gone back to their extremely misleading ways of showing what must be phony audience reactions to the film.

This is footage that shows people cowering with their friends and jumping in their seat, but it is simply impossible that this is the movie that they are watching, as once again, there is nothing that even comes close to causing that kind of reaction. However, it’s rather understandable that they wouldn’t want to show the actual footage of audience reactions. People sleeping or looking like they’re about to doze off wouldn’t exactly sell a lot of tickets.

It doesn’t seem to matter very much though as there is a select group that seems to have no problem paying to see the same movie four times. You would think they would realize this by now, but sadly, it appears that they haven’t, or that they simply don’t care. This leads into the other major area of concern for this series: the fact that they are so incredibly cheap to make. This latest entry cost just $5 million to make and has already made a large profit because all it takes a few people going to see it to make that happen. Therefore, the studio is just going to keep churning them out, again, completely indifferent to the absence of quality.

In fact, the fifth entry has already been announced for next October, so we can probably expect the exact same movie as the previous four times. Perhaps the next one will at the very least get the story moving again. That was yet another major failing of this film, the fact that it doesn’t advance the story in the least, nor does it even bother explaining how things got to be this way. But, as anyone who’s seen the other entries can tell you, this series has never been about the story. “Paranormal Activity 4” proves this once again, and when you factor in the lazy writing and complete lack of scares, it easily earns the title of the worst entry yet. 1/4 stars.
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