Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (Movie Review)

PLOT: A young woman’s search for her biological family leads her to an Amish community that is hiding some very dark secrets.

REVIEW: I should state up front that I have never been a fan of the “found footage” style; I have enjoyed some found footage movies over the years, but they have been few and far between. The original Paranormal Activity is one that I would give a positive rating, but the franchise lost me in the midst of part 2 and I still haven’t watched every installment in the series. I understand that things got rather convoluted as the franchise went on, so if the newly released Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin were just another sequel I probably shouldn’t have jumped right into it without catching up on its predecessors. But it’s not a sequel, it’s a reboot that doesn’t appear to have anything to do with any other Paranormal Activity movie, they have just put the title on a new supernatural horror movie that was shot in the found footage style. That’s because franchise producer Jason Blum felt the franchise was tired and tried to end it for good six years ago – but then Paramount called on him to make another one, so we get one that does its own thing.

Directed by franchise newcomer Will Eubank, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin definitely feels like it was shot with the found footage resistant members of the audience in mind. The characters are, for the most part, trying to making a serious, prestigious documentary, and therefore there are plenty of shots in the film that look like they were captured by a professional, including some drone footage since this crew happens to have a drone with them. Sometimes you get the shaky cameras flailing around and off-the-record moments are shot from odd angles because someone has just set the camera aside, but this is one of the slickest and most tolerable found footage movies I have ever watched.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin Will Eubank

Franchise veteran Christopher Landon wrote the script for this one, crafting the story of a young woman named Margot (Emily Bader) who was adopted as an infant and is now seeking more information on her biological family. She’s making a documentary about the search, so when she learns that her long-lost mother was from an Amish community in the Buffalo, New York area, she ventures into the community with cameraman Chris (Roland Buck III) and comic relief sound guy Dale (Dan Lippert). Our documentary crew will soon come to realize that there’s something very strange going on in this community, and there are some dark secrets hidden beneath their isolated church.

Landon wrote some likeable characters and they were brought to life very well by the cast. I enjoyed spending time with the documentary trio, I was entertained by Dale’s antics and wanted to see Margot both solve the mystery of her past and get out of this situation unscathed. That said, I did end up spending more time with these people than I really wanted to. At 98 minutes, the movie drags on a bit and asks you to be more invested in Margot’s search for answers than a lot of viewers are likely to be. There came a point where the movie felt like it was just going on and on and throwing too many scenes into the mix. I started checking the time frequently, every time willing the movie to be closer to the end credits than it actually was.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin Will Eubank Emily Bader

There aren’t a lot of scares in this movie to liven things up. Occasionally there will be a goofy little jump scare, but the majority of the running time is dedicated to building a feeling of dread. Anyone watching this is going to know from the beginning that things are going to go terribly wrong in the community, but Eubank and Landon keep us waiting to find out exactly how things are going to go wrong and how bad it’s going to get. As is often the case with found footage movies, nothing too bad can happen to the characters until we’re almost the end, so it’s all about following the slow build-up. You have to hope that the payoff is going to be worth the wait, and thankfully – even though I got restless on the way there – I did find the last twenty or so minutes of Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin to be creepy and exciting. It’s certainly more eventful than the first Paranormal Activity was, and the movie is a lot better than the sequels I’ve seen.

Devoted fans of the Paranormal Activity franchise may be disappointed that this doesn’t continue the story of the previous films, but those who had their fill of that story may find this to be an improvement. It’s a bit long-winded, but if you don’t mind sitting through a found footage movie it’s worth a look.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is now streaming on Paramount Plus.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin

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About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.