As we countdown to Halloween, one can’t help but notice the domination of horror films in the box office Top 10. Frankenweenie, Sinister and Hotel Transylvania are each attempting to commercialise on this money grabbing season, though it’s doubtful any of these flicks would be cashing in like Paranormal Activity 4. These films are a producers dream; films extremely cheap to make, guaranteed to make bucks.
In the past, the series have used believability to their advantage; enticing the viewer with likeable families placed in ultra-real environments. The unsuspecting characters are then assaulted by the paranormal, with an increasing number of strange and inexplicable noises and movements. Here, the same basic idea is used again but this time both the writing and the scares are dismal, seemingly involving little to no effort. Much is left unexplained, characters motives and behaviours are unrealistic and the script is woeful at best.
In the chronology of the series, Paranormal Activity 4 is set 5 years following the events ofParanormal Activity 2 and it follows a family forced to look after their neighbours child, Hunter, as his mother has fallen sick. We are shown footage taken from Paranormal Activity 2 to remind us that Hunter is the child Katie abducted at the end of the 2nd film. As Hunter’s stay draws longer, bizarre happenings begin to haunt the family; specifically wide-eyed adolescent Alex, and her sex-obsessed boyfriend Ben. Using modern technology to their advantage, the pair begins to chronicle and capture these mysterious events, slowly revealing their source.
The film uses the same basic techniques of the first 3 films, although here, the execution is dreadful, making this the worst in the series by far. The writing is dismal, seemingly involving little to no effort. Much is left unexplained, characters motives and behaviours are unnatural and the script is woeful at best. The scares are also wholly lacking in creativity. The director attempts to frighten the audience using the “BANG! “What was that?”” technique about 30 times, sorely overusing an otherwise effective idea.
The only reputable element of the film is the on-screen chemistry of Alex and Ben, their relationship is believable despite their motives being somewhat unrealistic and unnatural. This is no fault of the actors (Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively perform brilliantly), it simply boils down to dreadful screenwriting and uninspired direction.
Please, bask in the joys of Halloween to your hearts content, but avoid Paranormal Activity 4; it will only leave you wanting less of the season’s festivities. Simply forget it.
Written by Ash Beks.
Paranormal Activity 4 is out now through Paramount Pictures.