Being one of the biggest horror film franchises in cinema today, you would expect the Paranormal Activity series to get better due to its popularity, sadly, this is not the case.
The fourth instalment fails to dazzle and scare, as you sit through 88 minutes of anticipation, for a disappointing ending, and the feeling that I’m glad I bought that DVD for £3 from a Blockbusters bargain bin.
The film is based after the second, and if we all remember, at the end of the second film, Katie, our lovely demon possessed woman, has stolen, Robbie, her sister’s baby. Fast forward about 8 years, and Katie and Robbie have just moved on to a new street. Where Alex, her family and her sexually frustrated boyfriend live. As we see with the first three films, these people just can’t get enough of video taping everything that goes on in their daily lives. This time mostly from the families laptops, which does actually give the film a more modern feel, and the ability to give Skype users something to be afraid of. After Katie apparently gets ill, Robbie has to stay with Alex and her family. When Robbie begins to act strangely around the house and jump in to bed with Alex whilst she is sleeping, they think that it is time to video tape the events that are occurring. If they had watched the first three films, they would have known that filming only encourages the demon.
When Paranormal Activity came out in 2007, it was new, it was fresh. Sure there were loads of hand-held camera films already out, but this one offered something slightly different. With it being set in an ordinary American household, it made the story more believable, therefore scarier. Although it wasn’t a complete scare-fest, it still brought some new ideas to the table, and I think, on its own, was a good film.
Of course with every great horror film, eventually there is going to be a sequel made. I was actually looking forward to seeing Paranormal Activity 2 and 3, to see what the film-makers had done with the story to make it more terrifying. It seemed they didn’t do anything really, but take every aspect and jump scare from the first film, muddle them up into a different order, give it the next number in the line and stick it in a cinema.
It was great that they carried on the story from the first film – the second showing us that the demon was actually given to Katie by her brother-in-law and the third taking us back to the 1970s, when the haunting actually began. But the films always seem to be leading up to something massive, like a huge climax, and then everyone will die in a 10 second scene, and the film is over. It is the same with the fourth. The creepy video-taping of when the haunting is beginning to happen throughout the middle of the films, is actually scarier than the endings, which usually leave me saying “what?”, with my hands in the air and a confused look on my face.
It has to be said that there was one really good scene, amongst all the monotonous ones used from the previous films, which shows Alex, her boyfriend and Alex’s little brother, Wyatt. When they turn out the lights in the living room, motion-sensing dots from their Xbox Kinect show up on their bodies as they start to dance around, with Robbie, sat on the sofa. The camera from the Kinect is filming them, and shows the dots on the sofa next to Robbie move and turn to look at the them, in the shape of a man.
It has been such a shame to see this franchise go downhill, especially with Oren Peli at the helm. He has played his hand in some great films over the past few years Chernobyl Diaries (2012) and The Bay (2012). Not forgetting Insidious (2010) and Dark Skies (2013). It is a shame that this is what he is going to be remembered for most.
All round though, this is one film to stay clear of. I recommend watching it if it is on television, and you have and hour and a half to kill, don’t prepare yourself for some scares though…because you won’t get any.
Tag Line: All The Activity Has Led To This.
Horror Rating: (:-O)
Star Rating: ☆