When the hundredth sequence of eerily-quiet-furniture-room arrives, you know you’re watching a tired and slipshod milking of a large horror movie franchise. That is precisely what happens in Paranormal Activity 4 – a fourth entry that clumsily overstays its welcome.
The first Paranormal Activity had its own problems but it was a fresh and innovative (and genuinely creepy) version of found footage horror. Naturally greedy hands who saw the Saw franchise and the hundred-plus million box office returns decided to churn out factory-like sequels. The second and third films worked to an extent as they tried to expand on the story, Paranormal Activity 4 tries to go further and tie up some of the loose ends but mostly fails. The lack of story would’ve been ok had the scares at least been decent, sadly they are as tacky as they come.
Roving fans of the first three movies expecting a fun or grand mythology in the paranormal universe will be disappointed. Not only is there no explanation of why the spooky stuff went on in the first three films, but there is also a lame plot device of a back story that has been done in countless other horror films.
The film is set in Nevada and chronicles a new family this time, but we get more of the same – a silent house at night seen through various cameras, computer webcams, Skype windows, phone camcorders etc. There are other kids, and a template teenager, but the same old bump in the dark noises that occur over and over again. One would imagine that all the cloying repetition would lead to a satisfying explanation, but directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman merely pull the rug under your feet before the end credits roll. Not to mention the presence of two of the dumbest characters to be seen on screens this year – the protagonist’s parents, who pay absolutely no attention to ghostly activity going on around them, even if they experience it themselves.
(First published in MiD Day)