DIRECTOR(S): Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
STARRING: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton
In the newest instalment of the franchise, Paranormal Activity 4 fails to provide our favourite jump-scare horror this Halloween. Prepare yourself to follow the investigation of a mildly concerned pair of characters in a house full of generally ‘normal activity’. The plot follows the same formula of the previous films of US suburban family experiencing strange phenomena in their home, so expect none of your mythological questions to be answered about Witchy covens and pacts with hell demons. The characterisation has never been a strong point of the series and Paranormal Activity 4 takes a light-hearted turn to a teenage couple as the protagonists, which just feels a bit uncomfortable as we’re involved in their world of iChat, kick back nights, Xbox Kinect, and parents who ‘just don’t gettit!’.
Through slow suspense build up and increasingly terrified characters, the previous films built up clawing at your face tension. However in Paranormal Activity 4 the pacing ratio is unbalanced, the majority of the film is filled with suspense like the others, but the big scares are concentrated at the very very end which makes the ending feel very abrupt. Also, it feels like they’ve forgotten what found-footage tension is, their long still shots and silent moments turn into timecheck and sigh opportunities. There were a handful of good suspense moments, but they probably won’t be that memorable because they didn’t overall get your adrenaline pumped up enough.
Unless they throw back some of their low budget money into the series to re-invigorate, it feels like time to lay the found-footage horror genre to rest this Halloween, the plot and conventions are too predictable and the film is remarkable scare-bare. For horror, try Sinister or Silent Hill 2 instead.
Rachel Victoria Lewis