johnlink ranks PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

Through the first three PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies, I have had a better time than most. I think the first was actually a bit groundbreaking for the genre (something almost regrettable now with all the copycats), and the second two installments were flawed but decent enough. Nothing extraordinary, nothing terrible. Many people hated the third, but I kind of enjoyed it; so the fact that people dumped on the fourth wasn’t going to keep me away.

paranormal activity 4

I watched PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) on 6.12.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

Without question, this is the low point in the series thus far. It’s sort of too bad, because it wastes a believable pair of performances from its teen star Kathryn Newton (as Alex) and Matt Shively (as Ben). They are 15 year old kids. He wants to get in her pants, she is a strong female lead who doesn’t put up with that shit, but who also plays along with him. I was surprised at how well these two kids were written. In fact, take away the paranormal stuff and the conventions of a horror film, and the relationship built is simply watchable.

However, you can’t take away the horror bits. There is a camera set-up (as is the series norm) in the living room. With the Kinnect always on, the room lights up green. It is spooky, and it is smart. That’s about all this movie has new to offer. There is a twist involving a little kid which seems forced. The backstory is left completely up-in-the-air with some ambiguous promise to explain it later. I don’t want it explained later. I want a movie to stand on its own. There is a difference between leaving us hanging (quite alright) and ignoring character development and basic plot because the series will eventually get to it (not quite alright).

Beyond that annoyance, the scares are just retreads of previous movies. The beats are generally the same, the jumps aren’t new, and the movie ends almost identically to the second one. What’s the point? This is the first time in the series that I feel like the found-footage stuff was a major hindrance to the enjoyment of the movie. The revolutionary thing to do would be to make the fifth installment a standard horror film, but I worry it will just be more of the same. The gauntlet has been laid down by a mediocre fourth installment. The fifth needs to do better.

Again, it is too bad. I liked the build up. This was the best first act of a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film since the first. I appreciated the family, and I thought the addition of a creepy kid was pretty cool. Both of the child actors in this pull off their roles well. Even if the family taking in a kid for 8 days because his mom is in the hospital seems odd, its only a minor plot hole. The genuine nature of the family makes you believe they would be willing and able to do so.

I also thought the movie did a better job this time with the oft-present question of who believes what. Generally there is someone saying that scary things are happening, and another making them feel dumb. Even in the face of obvious proof, the stubborn person will refuse to see (not the the movies care… everyone dies anyway, regardless of how much you believe). In PA4, I appreciated the use of a fifteen-year-old kid being the one who knows what is happening. Her little five-year-old brother ENJOYS what is happening, and her parents are too self-involved to really care. They assume anything weird that shows up on camera is the boyfriend, Ben, who has already been established as a kid who makes movies (which also explains the ever-present camera). It’s all pretty smartly addressed. Because of that, it baffles me even more that the ending was such a low-point let down.

Look, I’m in for good now. I’ll see number five regardless. My expectations will certainly be lower.







~ by johnlink00 on June 14, 2013.

4 Responses to “johnlink ranks PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)”

  1. Nice work here!

    I liked the first one but it’s certainly a one trick pony. I thought the second was well done but just a copy of the first. I actually LOVED the third and would totally watch it again. The 4th was a big let down and what in the world happened in that last shot??

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