Paranormal Activity 4 (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/10/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Watchable fourth instalment that delivers the requisite number of shocks and scares and succeeds thanks to likeable performances from Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively, though it stops short of pushing the franchise mythology any further forward and criminally under-uses its latest camera-based gimmick.

What's it all about?
Directed by franchise returnees Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Paranormal Activity 4 takes place after the events of the second movie, which, as a prologue reminds us, ended with a possessed Katie (series regular Katie Featherston) killing her sister's family and abducting her nephew. Set a few years later, PA4 focuses on likeable teenager Alice (Kathryn Newton) and her goofy boyfriend Alex (Matt Shively), who start using their laptops and Skype connections to record spooky goings-on in Alice's house after her oblivious parents take in the creepy kid from across the road (Brady Allen as Robbie) while his mother (Featherston) is in hospital.

The Good
Newton and Shively are both excellent as the likeable, easily distracted teenagers; indeed, one of the film's best jokes is the fact that despite going to all the trouble of setting up their cameras, they hardly ever quite get around to watching back their own footage. Similarly, Allen is suitably creepy and there's strong support from both Featherston and Tommy Miranda as Alice's younger brother Jackson.

As is fast becoming traditional with the Paranormal Activity franchise, the film introduces some new technological gimmickry and uses it to appropriately chilling effect: in this case it's the use of Skype and smartphones as well as the combination of an infrared camera and the dots of light from an X-Box Kinect. The film duly delivers the requisite number of scares and plays some neat tricks along the way, whether it's Alex's practical jokes or some inspired fake-out moments (such as the non-scary fridge door).

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that, having successfully established a new element that expanded the story with the third film, the fourth refuses to push the franchise any further forward, which is a bit of a let-down, especially given the film's publicity (tag-line: ‘All the activity has been leading to this...’). On a similar note, there's no sense of why the forces of darkness (whoever they may be) might be interested in Alice in the first place, contrasting badly with the previous films, which firmly established exactly why Katie and her sister were targeted.

In addition, the Kinect gimmick is criminally under-used, there are a handful of irritating inconsistencies and the film has a few too many moments where you are shouting at the screen for Alice to show someone the footage, although there is a great moment where Alice's dad walks out of the room dismissively shaking his head and saying ‘You kids and your videos...’

Worth seeing?
Paranormal Activity 4 is a watchable entry in the series, though it plays it regrettably safe rather than attempting to expand the franchise mythology any further.

Film Trailer

Paranormal Activity 4 (15)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 12:47

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