Saturday, October 20, 2012


The fourth installment in the spook-fest found footage series is the point at which it's officially something for fans only. At this point in the "Paranormal Activity" universe, there's too much backstory and not enough scares for newbies to be interested. The second and third installments were repetitive, yes, but still offered up true scares and jump-at-you moments. Now scares are produced from jump-cuts to loud sounds (doors shutting, backpacks dropping). There's no more looming dread and nothing left to catch us off guard. To be forever helmed by "Catfish" creators Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, "Paranormal Activity 4" announces the franchise's transformation into strict merchandise.

Credit is due, though, to the new gimmicks and creativity in found footage techniques. This is the first entry to feel current and contemporary, especially after the third's prequel pre-dating it to the 80s. Instead of a video camera mounted on an oscillating fan, there are MacBooks, iPhones, Skype and even the Xbox Kinect used to innovative effect. We follow Alex (Kathryn Newton) as she discovers weird happenings surrounding her young neighbor, Robbie (Brady Allen), who's invited to stay with Alex's family when his mother falls ill. There's less build of suspense, especially with less reliance on the night-time footage which previous installments have banked on. Although the return of statuesque, stalking Katie -- of which all this supernatural activity surrounds -- is a blast.

My showing of the movie brought co-directors Joost and Schulman for a quick Q&A session. The guys noted that, as the ending teased with nibbles of plot development and a laughably goofy final shot, the fifth title is already well in the works. And after being asked when they think they're going to stop making sequels, they responded, "When are you going to stop coming?" Touché, gentlemen.

1 comment:

  1. I think the question of when they will stop making the paranormal movies was probably the same question asked of the producers from the “Saw” franchise. I have a co-worker at DISH who wants to see the fourth installment. I’m not sure I want to watch this in the cinema, and instead will wait until this is released on DVD. I have a Blockbuster @home account, the shipping is fast; when I’m done I can return it to the store for another movie in my queue. I think this franchise will continue creating sequels; and just like the “Saw” movies nothing compares to the first one.