Friday, October 4, 2013

Paranormal Activity 4

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.
2012. Rated R, 88 minutes.
Kathryn Newton
Matt Shively
Alexondra Lee
Brady Allen
Aiden Lovekamp
Stephen Dunham
Sprague Grayden

Remember little Hunter from part 2? In case you’ve forgotten he was the baby, Katie’s nephew, whom she abducted while evidently possessed by the demon that just doesn't like their family. Sorry about spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it. After the prequel that was part 3, we’re back to continuing the saga. As the movie’s tagline tells us, “all the activity has been leading to this.” After the opening scene of Paranormal Activity 4 shows you exactly what I've just told you, we skip a few years and to a new neighborhood. We also center on a new family. This time around, our conduit is the family’s teenage daughter Alex (Newton). She’s the only person living in the house who has a clue. Much of the movie is viewed through the webcam on her laptop. We see the rest through various cameras on the family’s multiple devices including their Xbox 360. The rest of the clan is made up of little brother Wyatt (Lovekamp), too young to really suspect anything and their equally oblivious mom Holly (Lee) and dad Doug (Dunham). The only other person aware of the strange happenings is Alex’s platonic, but always present and hopeful pal Ben (Shively). Thanks to him, we actually have a movie to watch. He’s the one that rigs all the cameras to constantly record.

Things progress as they must in the Paranormal Activity universe, slowly. In fact, things don’t start happening for quite awhile. They pick up once Wyatt gets a new playmate. That would be Robbie (Allen), the odd little boy who just moved in across the street with his mom and wanders the neighborhood late at night. He’s fond of Alex’s old tree house. Evidently, his mom becomes ill and, with nowhere else to go, guess who takes him in for a few days. Yup. That’s when the activity begins.

If you’re one of those people who show up at the franchise’s midnight premiers, chances are you’ll love this installment. If you’re one of those that thinks the whole series has been rubbish to this point, nothing here will change your mind. For the rest of us it’s a hard movie to judge. It’s better than part 2, which it is a direct sequel to, and part 3, the prequel. It advances the story and infusion of a new family gives the proceedings a much need shot in the arm. The ghostly tricks feel fresher even though a number of them are the same. There are a few ones including the garage scene which is just brilliant. The use of laptops also gives us a slightly different perspective on things.

On the other hand, there is a massive plot hole that walks around all movie and seriously needs explaining. If you can get past that, or just don’t recognize it, you’ll probably enjoy PA4 very much. If you can’t you’ll be busy wondering how and why we even got to the point where the movie starts. It would have to be something beyond contrived. Even with it’s issues, I’d still say this is the best of the series other than the original.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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