Paranormal Activity 4

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
  • Cast:Katie Featherston
  • Release Date:October 17, 2012
  • Distributor:Paramount
  • Running time:88 minutes
  • Film Worth:$13.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A competently executed instalment that delivers easy to shake off thrills.

review image a673d8e1eee75f155d58.jpg

There’s a point that horror franchises reach, usually around the fourth or fifth installment, where they stop trying new things and become exercises in formula. Saw IV, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Friday the 13th 5 and so on. These aren’t necessarily bad films (Elm Street 4 has some of the most visually interesting nightmares of the franchise) – but they’re for a specific, core demographic. In the case of Paranormal Activity 4: giggling young people.

PA4 begins with a brief summary of the events of the previous films and then introduces us to the new characters. In this, the film is surprisingly effective. The bulk of the action occurs from the perspective of laptop webcams and communication between 15-year-old Alex (Kathryn Newton) and ‘friend zone’ chum (Matt Shively).

Unusually these teen characters are quite likeable and both actors give strong, naturalistic performances. The activity begins when the creepy neighbour kid, Robbie, stays over. Alex’s parents are too busy being dysfunctional to notice but Alex begins to suspect there’s something amiss with the dead-eyed moppet and it’s beginning to have an effect on her younger brother Wyatt.

What follows ranges from the silly (blank-faced Katie Featherston appearing at random intervals fails to bring the chills) to the intriguing (XBOX360 Kinect-based scares provide equal parts creepiness and cynical product placement) and a surprisingly robust, if vaguely nonsensical, ending.

One could be world-weary and overly critical of this film, noting that the bulk of the “creepy kid talking to the telly” tropes are ripped off from Poltergeist – but you’d be missing the point. We’re in horror franchise territory here and most of the target audience have never heard of Poltergeist (or consider it a “classic” film). This is an engaging, competently made - somewhat incredulously plotted – spookshow. It’s designed to be a date movie for teenagers who scream whenever something moves in front of the camera or there is a sudden loud noise. Forgettable but well-executed, Paranormal Activity 4 gives you exactly what you’d expect and nothing more.

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