Saturday, October 20, 2012

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 - Rated R

Directed By - Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Let me start off by confessing something. I am a horror movie fanatic. There, that's out of the way. I was also a child of the 80's. I grew up with Jason, Freddy, Michael and, Leatherface. All of those films spawned many sequels, some great, some not so much. The thing about those sequels is they were for the most part, interchangeable. You didn't have to see Friday the 13th part 5 to understand part 6. You didn't care how Jason got his hockey mask. It was cool. Leatherface was just crazy. It was cool. This brings me today's horror sequels. They are just too confusing for my 80's horror brain to wrap itself around. Paranormal Activity 4 is VERY closely tied to the previous films, to a fault. I didn't know what the hell was happening past the halfway point. I did see the previous films in the franchise and, lost it with this one. You definetly have to see the first 3 films to get any sense of enjoyment out of part 4. This is unfortunate because it could have been a much better film, if it was a new story.

Paranormal Activity 4 is the tale of Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family. A fairly normal family with everyday problems. Alex has has a little brother named Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) who is at the center of the story. A woman and her son move in across the street from them and, they start seeing the mysterious boy at odd times. The woman has to spend a few days in the hospital for some reason so, the boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) stays with the family for a few days. This is where things get scary and, I got lost. The strange Robbie is just that, strange. I'm sure the things he says and does were intentional by the writer and directors. Was there something in the previous films about an old fork that can tell the future? I don't remember but, Robbie does. When things get scary, Alex's boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) sets up the numerous computers the family has to record everything on their webcams. I guess this family has a computer in every room. Lucky them. Between them and the camera that Alex always seems to have on, we don't miss a beat. Lucky us. No one questions why she is always video recording everything? No one? Things do get scary because, according to Robbie, the ghost (Toby) doesn't like them. The scares were decent but, predictable. It didnt do anything new in that department. The family's cat was scarier than the ghost at times.

Robbie's mother Katie (Katie Featherston) shows up towards the end of the film. No back story is given on her character. You're just "supposed" to know who she is. Judging by the gasps in the theatre, most did. If you didn't see the previous films, you'd be lost. Katie is no Jason Voorhees. Not yet, at least. The movie did have a sense of doom when she shows up. What follows is nothing short of predictable, played out horror film formula. Only to get you ready for Paranormal Activity 5 next year.

The one saving grace in the film is the acting. It was quite good for an unknown cast. Alex and Ben were very sharp. Likeable characters who, you do develop a relationship with. The child actors in the roles of Wyatt and Robbie were typical inexperienced actors. Not very good in the least. Paramount made this film on the quick and cheap. With a budget of only 6 million dollars, filmed in July of this year, the turnaround is quick and profitable. Promising part 5,6,7 so on and so on. Is this a good thing, you ask? NO WAY! stop these shenanigans now, Paramount! A total reboot is the only way to save this franchise. The story is becoming way to complex. Complex stories do not work in horror films like this. Never have, never will. Stay after the credits to be "treated" to a bonus scene. All I can say is Paranormal Fiesta, anyone? It made no sense to me, at all. Maybe I'm too old or something went over my head. Directed by the talents of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), Paranormal Activity 4 was confusing, typical and pointless. If only they reboot with a new story and loose the "found footage" motif, this could be a better franchise. As is, it's just dumb.

1 and a half stars out of 5.

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