Reel Reviews
Movie: Too Little Activity In “Paranormal Activity 4”
November 4, 2012
Rating: 1 star out of 5

Much like the "Saw", "Friday the 13th"and Halloween franchises, the "Paranormal Activity" series has become an annual October movie tradition and, much like the phases its contemporaries went through, it should have ended a long time ago.

The latest "Paranormal Activity" movie, filmed through the style of webcam, attempts to expand on the previous films by continuing the general story of a family being haunted by a malevolent spirit, but it also shows the audience what happened to several characters from the first Paranormal Activity film that they have not seen since.

Normal teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) are forced to interact with weird neighbor boy Robbie (Brady Allen) after his “mother” is hospitalized and he comes to stay with their family. Robbie takes a special interest in Wyatt, as Alex begins to notice strange and unexplainable things taking place in the house. Widely ignored when she brings up the odd things to her parents, Alex turns to her tech savvy boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) to help her get to the bottom of the strange happenings by setting up webcams in strategic places throughout the house. Robbie eventually returns to live with his mother, but continues to hang around Wyatt whose entire personality has drastically shifted and who will no longer talk to or play with Alex without being prompted.

As the hauntings escalate and the family’s lives are put in danger, Alex must try and rescue Wyatt from their demonic neighbors, but does she have any idea with what she is actually dealing with?

"Paranormal Activity 4" is an hour and half of, essentially, watching someone else’s home movies; where the viewer is bored and nothing majorly interesting happens but you feel like you need to sit through the whole thing just to be polite. The movie is flawed from beginning to end and the plot, the one that specifically involves the characters backstories and even a bit of the origins and reasoning behind the haunting, is completely convoluted. So many blatantly obvious questions, and plot holes, are raised that following the movie becomes secondary to wondering if anything will be explained (Spoiler Alert: nothing is explained). One of the films biggest flaws, aside from the almost non-existent plot, is the horror elements; for being billed as a horror film, there are few scares and when they do appear the audience can see them coming from a mile away. The acting, sets, filming style and pacing are all par for the course for the franchise.

There will no doubt be a fifth "Paranormal Activity" film, as Hollywood will never abandon a moneymaker regardless of how terrible and unnecessary it is, and if it is anything like this last one let’s hope that the paranormal activity is ramped up and that there is an actual plot that answers all, or even some, of the questions that were raised. Basically, let’s just hope we get an overall better film.          

"Paranormal Activity 4" is rated R for language and some violence and terror and runs 88 minutes. It is in theaters now.