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Paranormal Activity 4
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Henderson, NV--A Real Neat Place To Raise Your Ghoul. . ."
1 stars

From a personal standpoint, the two scariest things about "Paranormal Activity 4" occurred before the lights went down at the screening I attended--the kid at the box-office charged me the senior ticket price despite my being a fairly long way off from achieving that particular milestone and the theater, despite the late hour and crummy weather, was largely filled with people who evidently had not yet gotten their fill of the increasingly repetitive spook-show silliness over the course of the three previous films. For those who inexplicably enjoyed the earlier entries, "Paranormal Activity 4" will no doubt be a delight because it offers them the chance to pay good money to see the exact same thing again. For everyone else, however, this is a dreary, dimwitted cash grab that starts off badly, quickly grinds to a halt and concludes with a finale that will leave anyone who actually paid money to see it feeling profoundly ripped off, even if they did manage to get the senior discount.

Taking place three years after the conclusion of the second film, which ended with the demonically possessed Katie (Katie Featherstone) killing her sister and her husband and walking off into the night with nephew Hunter (), the two turn up in the not-at-all-nightmarish suburb of Henderson, Nevada and, through circumstances too sketchy to get into here, the kid winds up staying with the family across the street for a few days. Before long, teen girl Alex (Kathryn ) begins to notice weird things happening and with her parents too oblivious to notice, she enlists her boyfriend to rig all the computers in the house to record everything that goes on. This leads to the usual array of found-footage nonsense consisting of poorly composed footage of doors opening and closing of their own accord, people and animals popping up out of nowhere and one instance of Alex demonstrating that she sleeps above the covers before stumbling along to a conclusion where lots of stuff finally happens but it is almost impossible to decipher exactly what most of it is thanks to the jerky camerawork.

Although I have disliked all the previous entries in the franchise, "Paranormal Activity 4" is one of the most blatant examples of barrel-bottom scraping to come along in quite some time. The scares are as repetitive as ever, the non-spook stuff is maddeningly boring, the characters are largely idiots and the increasingly convoluted attempts to tie everything together in one grand mythology seems to have been devised by and for the few people who liked all that druid crap in the later "Halloween" films. The biggest problem, however is that the found-footage gimmick has more than run its course and the hoops that the film has to go through in order to justify it are more ridiculous and implausible than ever--characters are constantly dragging around cameras and laptops, even at the most inopportune moments, and the night-vision feature on an XBox Kinect, which is demonstrated in a bit of product placement that makes the James Bond movies look subtle by comparison.

In the plus column, the film does manage to generate one legitimate scare involving a kitchen knife (though it even screws that up by having the characters respond to it in the silliest manner imaginable) and Kathryn Newton is reasonably appealing as the increasingly beleaguered heroine, even if the screenplay does require her to act as if she has bacon bits for brains at too many points. I also must confess a certain fondness for the film's final shot--without going into detail, it is so silly and implausible (even by junky horror movie standards) that it almost makes the finales of "The Devil Inside" and "The Apparition" seem logical and well-planned by comparison. That said, I don't want to encourage you to go out and see it just for the lunatic final frames because if enough of you do that, it will only encourage the producers to launch "Paranormal Activity 5" and that is a notion more terrifying than anything to be found in the series thus far.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23920&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/19/12 17:40:48
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User Comments

9/24/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS 1 stars
2/20/17 morris campbell how the mighty have fallen 2 stars
1/03/14 Marty Same old tricks. Fresh with the first movie but it's become predictable. Not enough terror. 2 stars
11/07/12 patti howard awesome and scary 5 stars
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  19-Oct-2012 (R)
  DVD: 29-Jan-2013


  DVD: 29-Jan-2013

Directed by
  Henry Joost
  Ariel Schulman

Written by
  Zack Estrin

  Dianna Agron
  Katie Featherston
  Brady Allen

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