PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
** ½ Out of 5
Tagline- It’s Closer Than You Think
Release Date- October 19th, 2012
Running Time- 97-Minutes
Screenplay- Christopher Landon
Director- Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Starring- Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham and Katie Featherston
The first Paranormal Activity ended up becoming a surprise blockbuster film that was produced on a very low budget and while I didn’t love the film I found it a fun enough watch with a solid final act and for the most part it didn’t feel too staged, but regardless of liking it or not I always try to support Indie horror. Even if the original wasn’t a personal favorite I decided to check out the sequel and went in not really expecting much and while I only saw the film once when first released on video I actually enjoyed it even if it did feel a bit more staged. Will it hold up on a 2nd viewing? Only time will tell I suppose, but what I can say is I have very little desire to watch PA3 again and while not terrible it just wasn’t very good and seeing as the 4th film is by the same filmmakers my expectations were quite low.
Basically if you’ve seen the first 3 you’ve also seen this film. While other franchises could be accused of being rehashes with each sequel, but none are more guilty of that than Paranormal Activity. It’s the same exact movie each and every time and you could slap the same name of the writer and director on each part and no one would have reason to doubt it. At least in other horror franchises rehashes or not some of the filmmakers were able to bring their own style to some degree for better or worse. PA4 like the previous entry isn’t terrible, but again suffers from being a complete rehash. The problem with sequels is if you stray the film fails, but if you keep doing the same thing over and over again it gets tiresome and the PA series is beyond tiresome.
I’m not gonna bother getting into the plot since more or less its identical to the past the 3, but the script by Christopher Landon who also wrote 2 & 3 is mostly lackluster and about the only thing he gets right is a fairly likable character in Alex (Newton) and to a lesser degree Ben (Shively). The rest of the characters are dull and lifeless and add nothing to the film. Landon’s script is nothing more than a rewrite of the first 3 as it offers nothing new to the series. Had it not been done 3 times before the script still not great wouldn’t be as poor. But this is the 4th part and this idea is now tiresome and boring, which was clear after PA3 and even clearer now. I actually had no problems with the script for the 2nd and while not a great screenplay it was decent enough, but now with PA4, Landon is either out of ideas or not given much room for creativity.
Directors Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman who directed PA3 return and once again deliver a lifeless film devoid of any suspense and tension. The so called suspense and scare scenes almost feel like a parody of the series. The scenes are all the same; hear a sound, blankets pulled off. We’ve seen this already and Joost and Schulman are unable to inject anything different. The pacing is also quite poor as nothing interesting happens throughout the first hour and Joost and Schulman fail at ever setting any kind of eerie tone and even when its meant to get tense its quite lame and fails to bring any excitement.
Its not that PA4 is a horrible movie it’s just that its the same exact film with nothing new added. My review is harsh and I look at this the same as the previous; I didn’t hate it, but never wanna see it again. There are ways to stay true to the concept while also being able to bring something new, but thus far nobody had attempted that and now with a 4th part over and done its probably too late now. After this I think I’m done with this series since each time out its all the same. As I stated I thought the first was a fun watch and PA2 was a fun film, but the fun is gone and the series either needs to be put to bed or find a way to mix things up.