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Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 4

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There are plenty of things that go bump in the night. When it comes to the month of October there may be more than ever thanks to watching a glutton of horror movies. We all know there are lots of different subgenres of horror movies but none have been mined as repetitively as the found footage has. Thanks to the one that really started it all (The Blair Witch Project) these types of horror films have really started to run themselves into the ground. And no series seems as ready to put the final nail in the coffin as the Paranormal Activity franchise. Calling these the new Saw would be an understatement, because at least something happens in those movies.

In 2009, Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew Hunter went missing. Their whereabouts still unknown until now (2011) we are informed, thanks to a “Previously, on Paranormal Activity” style opening. Being brought up to speed we find out that Katie and Hunter have left Carlsbad, California, but we are moving on to Henderson, Nevada. What follows is the found footage of a new family – mom and dad, Holly (Alexondra Lee) and Doug (Stephen Dunham); teenage daughter Alex (Kathryn Newton); and six year old (Wyatt Aiden Lovekamp). Alex has a sorta-boyfriend, Ben (Matt Shively), who has a knack for recording their webchats. One night, all hell is breaking loose across the street and it turns out that their neighbor is being carted off to the hospital and the son, Robbie (Brady Allen), is going to stay with them for a few days. Soon enough, all hell starts breaking loose and it all seems linked to Robbie and his mom.

Director’s Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman make their return after they took the series in a good direction for Paranormal Activity 3. That was until the abominable final 15 minutes took a complete nosedive and began introducing the cult factor, pedophile demon weddings, and enough neck snapping to make an ’80s action star blush. The one thing going for this installment is its sense of humor. At first Ben seems like his character may be just what we needed. That and a dad who finds it hilarious how technologically advanced kids are these days. Unfortunately, you can guess what’s going to rear its head again during the finale, necks start getting snapped again, drug-induced levitating ghost rape, and more unintentional laughs than any other film so far. I left as soon as the credits finally rolled but I have read that there is a post-credit scene that’s supposed to make for a Mexican-flavored spin-off. Maybe if they get someone in line with this kind of aspect (say Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Amenabar, Juan Antonio Bayona, or even Nacho Vigalondo), Paramount Pictures could finally pull an actually scary Paranormal Activity out of their hat.

About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.