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Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4

Released 19 October 2012
Director Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Brady Allen
Writer(s) Zack Estrin
Producer(s) Jason Blum, Oren Peli
Origin United States
Running Time 95 minutes
Genre Horror
Rating 15A

Lack of Activity.

The latest entry in the found footage horror series, Paranormal Activity 4 does very little to live up to the impact of its predecessors.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have returned from Paranormal Activity 3, but their second contribution to the series feels too reliant on familiar patterns drawn from the original, and has far too few new ideas.

Once again the film consists entirely of footage shot by the protagonists – led by new characters, peppy blonde teen Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her annoying, geeky boyfriend (Matt Shively). When Alex’s parents take in neighbouring boy Robbie after his mother is mysteriously rushed to hospital, Alex begins to suspect that an evil presence has entered her house. The fact that she feels the need to document this feels horribly forced, and serves only to emphasise the difficulty of establishing a motive for found footage to exist at all. Despite some imaginative uses of laptop webcams and the camera of an Xbox Kinect, Paranormal Activity 4 feels woefully amateur.

When Alex’s younger brother Wyatt rides around the house on a big wheel tricycle in a knowing nod to The Shining, the reference only serves to emphasise the amateurish production values. Despite this and a few other clever references to classics of the horror genre, Joost and Schulman rarely give the impression that they actually know what they are doing. As the meagre plot progresses it becomes clear that they are unwilling to divert form the successful template of previous instalments. The final act in particular is utterly predictable and derivative.

Paranormal Activity 4 displays a tenuous grip on previous continuity, and it certainly doesn’t advance the story arc of the series (what little there was) in any noticeable way. By the end of the film nothing might as well have happened, as any attempt to take the series in a new direction quickly succumbs to the same tired routine of previous films. Paranormal Activity 4 does nothing but rehash an old formula, and it is not even particularly successful in this regard.

Paranormal Activity 4 is about as scary as a noise you hear in a dark house at night – it is unnerving for a few seconds, but it isn’t very scary or even memorable in the light of day.

- Bernard O’Rourke