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The F*cking Black Sheep: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Mar. 14, 2013by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

I still dug it because the simple nature of the format works.

There comes a point in every franchise when the endless sequels must choose their destiny (sounds much better when read in a Vader voice). On one hand, sequels become so boringly repetitive that they hold as much interest as an empty box of Captain Crunch. They evolve into something horrific, bringing a sad, pathetic shame to the original (looking at you, Good Day to Die Hard).

On the other handif done right, sequels somehow top and build upon what came before, a tough act to pull especially in the world of horror where franchises always outstay their welcome. Theyre worse than in-laws or mooching friends (or whatever the lame clich is) because by the time we end up with 34 sequels to the original, not only does the whole thing end up punch line, but it nearly destroys the originals legacy. Off the top of my head I cant think of a single horror franchise that didnt run itself into the ground (please correct me in the Talkback, which Im sure someone will).

While the kings of slasher appear to be lost in remake purgatory, the Paranormal Activity brand has emerged as the new king, smartly taking over the grizzly hole left behind by the Saw movies. I have no doubt that the producers will milk this franchise until they have to use substitute powder milk because they make these cheap and fast, spitting them out yearly until any dignity left has been decapitated and buried in a cellar a long, long time ago.

So what? Enjoy them because with Paranormal Activity 4, the series still has legs but I fear they might not be sturdy for much longer because no horror series maintains any sort of acceptable level of quality. PA 4, however, hasnt faded yet as it still manages to invoke great moments despite me knowing EXACTLY where and when every single jump would appear. Even with that knowledge, I still dug it because the simple nature of the format works. Ok sure, PA 4 is more of the same with yet another generic family in yet another nice pad, and yet another victim of the ghost. But what isnt repetitive? If you love AC/DC you can probably explain the difference between each and every track. But hate AC/DC, wellshit all sounds the same. Paranormal Activity is no different. For everyone complaining that they expected or wanted something new iskinda stupid. Dont buy the next AC/DC album and bitch when that it sounded just like the last 11. Know what youre gonna get. A slight variation of the exact same concept.

While PA 4 isnt as good as the original and Ill still bitch about the movie taking way too long to deliver on the horror, its also the series shtick. Id like a little more gore, but waiting for the moment when some sap gets snapped in half gives the movie tension without having to do anything. And while the villain Katie doesnt exactly rank up there with Hannibal Lecter, I like that she just sorta mopes around. She plays against demented type and helps us all remember that sometimes less is more. Oh, if youve followed any of my columns before youd notice that little kids scare the hell out of me. Make them stare blankly from the background with their little heads tilted to the left. Scariest damn thing ever on film.

At least PA 4 finally explored more about the mythology of the demon (or whatever it is), but its time that they stop holding back so much. Lets give see those witches go wild. Or at least take their tops off. At least with PA 4 we understand the depth of whats going on. (SPOILER) When the giant gaggle of witches is revealed and they get their pretty blonde virgin, well, goose bumps. Its some creepy shit knowing that theres so many more Katies out there. Maybe even a Cindy! (END)

If the PA brand wants to continue, I have three simple suggestions. 1) More gore. 2) Stop saving the action for the last 15 minutes. 3) Give some damn answers before no one cares. We know part five is coming soon yet again, and Im cool with playing the same old found footage game again, but something needs to change. I still dug PA 4, but either this franchise fades away without doing something new or it stops giving the audience blue balls.

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6:43PM on 03/15/2013
Good Day To Die Hard was actually you know, good though. This film on the other is one of the WORST pieces of shit EVER made! I hope to god that next PA films bombs spectacularly so this horrible fucking series will FINALLY end once and for all!
Good Day To Die Hard was actually you know, good though. This film on the other is one of the WORST pieces of shit EVER made! I hope to god that next PA films bombs spectacularly so this horrible fucking series will FINALLY end once and for all!
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4:48AM on 03/15/2013

ZZZzzzzzzzz........

I thought the first 3 movies were good and 2 and 3 kept up a good pace and vibe but number 4 nearly put me to sleep. Another suggestion I would have for the next sequel is stop showing so many goddamn cut scenes of security cameras where NOTHING is happening over and over and over again. 4 could've been 20 minutes shorter if they cut these scenes out or they could have actually added more meat to the story.
I thought the first 3 movies were good and 2 and 3 kept up a good pace and vibe but number 4 nearly put me to sleep. Another suggestion I would have for the next sequel is stop showing so many goddamn cut scenes of security cameras where NOTHING is happening over and over and over again. 4 could've been 20 minutes shorter if they cut these scenes out or they could have actually added more meat to the story.
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1:31PM on 03/14/2013

Current fashion is to hate on this franchise.

I remember back when BWP was releases I attacked it on a number of forums pointing out the lack of character development, meaningful plot developments, and the sheer boring first half. I was handed my arse by a number of people. Flash forward to last year and exactly the same issues are being raised about PA4. Hello it's found footage, exactly what are you expecting?
Totally agree with this column, the fifth movie, which I'll be catching on opening night, needs to add some meat to the bone of
I remember back when BWP was releases I attacked it on a number of forums pointing out the lack of character development, meaningful plot developments, and the sheer boring first half. I was handed my arse by a number of people. Flash forward to last year and exactly the same issues are being raised about PA4. Hello it's found footage, exactly what are you expecting?
Totally agree with this column, the fifth movie, which I'll be catching on opening night, needs to add some meat to the bone of what we have seen previously. Get the scares up front, explain the witches, we're back to being BFF.
At worse this series is a hell of a lot better than the conveyor belt crap being pumped out by Boredwood in increasing streams each year.
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10:20AM on 03/14/2013

Awful movie.

I really enjoy this franchise and the mythology... but c'mon this whole film was just drilling holes.
I really enjoy this franchise and the mythology... but c'mon this whole film was just drilling holes.
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9:03AM on 03/14/2013

Agreed

Agree totally. I know I am in the minority like yourself but, I like this series and I liked PA 4. While this entry is the weakest, it still entertained me. And also agree on what they need to do to give this series a second wind.
Agree totally. I know I am in the minority like yourself but, I like this series and I liked PA 4. While this entry is the weakest, it still entertained me. And also agree on what they need to do to give this series a second wind.
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