Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 Review!



Hello kids! I know it's been a while since my last post and for that I do apologize, it's been very busy with University and whatnot! But, lets get started on what I'm here to write; my review for Paranormal Activity 4.

I'm not going to dwell too much on the plot so don't worry about spoilers. All I'll say is that the film takes place 5 years after the events of Paranormal Activity 2 with Katie abducting Hunter and both their whereabouts remain unknown. We then shift to a new family, led by young teenage Alex (Kathryn Newton) her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) along her younger brother Wyatt with 2 parents on the verge of divorce. They live opposite a single mother (guess who?) who is taken into hospital and they take on the creepy kid known as Robbie. Then, of course, weird things start happening around the house.

You do have to admire Paramount for milking the franchise for all it's worth, and considering the last 3 films have earned over $500,000 worldwide, there is such high expectation for the films to keep on delivering. Unfortunately, this is the film in the franchise that takes things downhill.  Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's return as directors should have been a good thing, especially after the success of the third entry with it's ingenious scare tactics such as the rotating fan, the ghost under the sheet and more importantly; the mythology of the witches but this time, there's nothing new brought to the series. Yes okay, I mentioned how I thought it was clever to add technology of today such as webcams, Skype or even a BLATENT product placement of an Xbox kinnect but they are all severely underused! I was waiting a long time for something to happen when 90% of the time; nothing ever did. 


Paranormal Activity 4 - Trailer 2


I do have to credit Joost & Schulman though, they are fantastic at building tension. That classic bass rumble and odd thud from a doorway always succeeds in raising my heart level, for sometimes nothing to even happen. So well done for building tension. But it's a shame they fall flat everywhere else. Most of the scares were lazy or highly predictable; especially if you're like me and have seen the trailers more than a few times. It's like they've become arrogant with the film making process;  the third film was so good and really set the bar for the franchise, it's like they didn't bother to try this time around. The kinnect gimmick was used twice I think in the whole 90 minutes which left me disappointed, so many missed opportunities! One sequence that stood out for me in particular was one involving a kitchen knife that vanished, it's just a shame there were no more like it. I also appreciate the modern use of recording, but really? How the hell can EVERYONE in a family own a Macbook?! 

Acting this time round was a vast improvement. Newton and Shively shine as the two teenagers trying to actually figure out what's going on against the backdrop of the clueless (borderline stupid) adults. They provide the very much needed humor in a horror film that didn't really have that much horror. Or actually scenes that didn't make much sense, see the levitation scene in the trailer? Pointless! Robbie's portrayal was executed brilliantly, and I couldn't fault him as the creepy kid from next door. It was also great to see the return of Katie Featherston in more than a 2 minute cameo, not to spoil much but let's say she returns to her roots. When she first appeared on screen the whole cinema gasped, and it was great that she could provoke that single reaction.

If you're wanting answers from the third film then prepare to be disappointed because this installment does NOTHING for story or expanding the mythology that was so cleverly established in the last film. Everything is merely hinted at or alluded to with no direct answers being given. It's like we as an audience have to figure out everything ourselves, going back to the point of the directors being lazy and not really trying anything new. The last 10 minutes are the best part of the whole film; it brought high tension, genuine scares (the most terrifying shot of a hallway) and possibly the best ending in the whole series but again, does nothing to expand the story or even hint to what is going to happen next.

There are plenty of twists and turns to be had with Paranormal Activity 4, it's just a shame it takes such a slow ride to get there, full of cheap lazy scares that distract us from the genuine ones. I really do like the Paranormal Activity series, but now is the time to close its doors and I pray to God that it goes out on a strong note with the inevitable release of Paranormal Activity 5 next year.

Cheap lazy scares, virtually no plot but a strong lead and a strong finale make it not so terrible - 6/10

Kieran x