Fourth time around not a charm for ‘Paranormal’

By Austin Flynn

Not many franchises stay fresh in their fourth iteration, and “Paranormal Activity” is no exception.

While “Paranormal Activity 3” breathed new life into the series and subjected viewers to a more brutal experience, “Paranormal Activity 4” seemed to take a few steps back with its scare tactics. It might be time to wrap this franchise up, as the newest entry proves to be a supernatural stinker.

The “Paranormal Activity” series capitalized on the found-footage genre. The first three movies revolve around a family and its struggles with a demonic force set on terrorizing and killing them. The fourth movie focuses on the main family’s new neighbors, who become unwitting victims.


In regards to the movie’s biggest setbacks:

Austin Flynn: I felt a strong connection to the main characters and their well-being throughout the first movie, but all of that went out the window with this one. I didn’t care about this new placeholder family and the perils they faced because there was nothing that truly built them up for me. The mother was especially forgettable, and it was impossible to identify with a single character. I found myself shrugging my shoulders at each death.

Karsten Burgstahler: I agree with the family part. And the multiple sex jokes made by the main character’s boyfriend made these characters even more unlikeable. However, the biggest problem is the lack of ideas. It’s rare that a third movie is fresh, but Paranormal Activity 3 introduced several cool camera tricks, including a camera attached to a rotating fan. This movie had zero new jump scares. You’ve seen it all before here. The only new trick was the use of an XBOX Kinect, and even that is just product placement.

AF: Not only did they say the name XBOX way too many times within a two-minute timespan, but they also went out of their way to explain what the Kinect does in extreme detail. Microsoft must have paid a pretty penny to get that much screen time in a box office juggernaut such as this.

In regards to the film’s end (Minor spoiler alert):

KB: The film’s ending is pretty much the same as the first three, only not as scary. It’s also incredibly rushed. I think the earlier films let the suspense build during the climax, and to an almost unbearable level in the third film’s case. But here, after reaching the climax, the film lasts one minute longer and cuts to black. I wasn’t dreading what would be around the next corner, and I felt robbed when the movie ended.

AF: While I will agree it felt a bit rushed, the minute the action happened was intense. Not only because of the images displayed throughout the minute, but also because of the final scene’s pacing. Sure, it may have dragged a little or built up no suspense, but it was a great choice to have the camera go from stationary to moving during the final minute because it took the viewer by surprise.


KB: Yeah, but the shaky motion often takes away from the suspense. It became somewhat annoying here. The last few movies had sequences during the climax where the camera would just sit there and wait for something to happen. Those moments were horrifying, and this movie is severely lacking those moments.

In regards to the film’s weak jump scares:

AF: OK, this one really turned up the film’s diarrhea dial and took me out of the experience completely. Every jump scare was cheap at best and didn’t lead to one ounce of actual fear or suspense. It just goes to show how weak the actual plot is when a movie has to rely solely on a sudden camera jolt or loud noise to try to scare its audience. It wasn’t even done well in this case. If they were going to go for easy screams, the least they could have done was a good job. This was just pathetic.

KB: If one more movie throws a cat in front of the camera to scare the audience, I might run upstairs and destroy the projector with a baseball bat.

1hr 35min? – ?Rated R? – ?Horror