Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 photo starrating-2stars.jpgSuburban teen Alex and her little brother Wyatt live in Henderson, Nevada with their mom and dad. One night, Alex and her boyfriend discover a young neighbor boy Robbie hiding in the tree house of their backyard. When Robbie’s mother falls ill, the family takes him in. Then creepy things start happening. For those who still care, Paranormal Activity 4 picks up several years after the events of PA2. (PA3 was a prequel to both the first and second films).

Story fatigue had already crept into this series well before this installment. Once again we are presented with lots of found footage from computer webcams. Shots of seemingly empty rooms, doors that close by themselves and loud bursts of noise following a period of silence. A couple jolted me awake. The script’s contribution this time is to introduce the camera from a Microsoft Kinect video game console with the infrared tracking dots bathing the room in an eerie green light. The outline of an unexplained figure is about as scary as this gets. The human star is Alex, a teen girl played by Kathryn Newton. She is an appealing presence and conveys the natural vibe of a real teen. The same goes for actor Matt Shively who plays her boyfriend Ben. They are understandably freaked out by the strange goings on while the rest of the family inexplicably dismiss flying knives and possessed children as nothing, natch. The Featherston sisters, Katie & Kristi, have historically been the focus of the supernatural activity in this franchise. Kristi appears only in flashback and Katie is relegated to a minor character. The drama isn’t advanced in any meaningful way. We’re merely left with more of the same parlor tricks you’ve seen in 3 installments before. Except this time they’re done with less enthusiasm. Despite the lackluster performance at the box office, PA5 is coming this October.

30 Responses to “Paranormal Activity 4”

  1. ” doors that close by themselves and loud bursts of noise following a period of silence. A couple jolted me awake.”



  2. If there were any mercy, they’d stop these. LOL

    You’re right though, that “Kinect effect” was the coolest part of the whole movie. LOL. “Tired” is definitely the operative word for the rest of it Mark! 😦


  3. I watched this by myself at home (late at night). I put the movie on “pause” to get a snack… The kitchen light bulb popped just as I turned it on, and all was dark for a moment. Needless to say, I got a case of “the creeps” and enjoyed the movie more than I should have ! Ha-ha !


    • That is creepy! I had speakers that were faulty at certain sound levels and there’s a scene where the demon passes overhead while the little boy is staring at the infrared camera. The sound was 10x louder than it should’ve been. I jumped 5 feet!


  4. I cannot believe they are making another one. Is there anybody who still cares about this franchise?


  5. Yeah, definitely not as good as the first three but I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff.


  6. Even though I got quite a few jolts of scares with this one. It really wasn’t good. I think the ending again, was dumb. I can’t believe there is going to be a part 5, but i’ll probably watch it. 2 1/2 stars.


  7. Still not seen it, due to negative reviews everywhere, but PA3 was excellent I felt so I had high hopes for PA4.


  8. I mean, it’s not as good as the others, but still okay for what it is. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. You know what? It definitely is. Good review Mark.


  9. GaryLee828 Says:

    I really never understood the hate for PA4. I don’t get how some love other installments of the franchise but then hate this one. They’re all basically the same! lol. I mean if one hated the other installments then I understand why they’d hate this one, too – but I don’t get how fans of the earlier installments have so much disdain for this one.

    But, I like to watch any movie that keeps me guessing, and this is one of the few series that is unpredictable from scene-to-scene. I like the pacing b/c it keeps you on your toes and every time you think something is going to happen, it doesn’t – and when you think something isn’t going to happen, it does; and it’s hard to tell which scenes will do what.

    As long as they can keep me guessing then I hope they keep pumping these out every year. 🙂 I just get so tired of seeing the same kind of traditional horror films full of recycled predictable fluff, so this series always keeps me on edge.

    I mean, we still haven’t even seen Toby yet – and in one of these he’s probably going to appear. Is there anything that will stop Toby from tormenting this family? Can he be defeated? How much more is he capable of? etc., etc.

    Every installment in this series was a heck of a lot better than “The Possession” and “Mama”. lol.


    • I agree they’re all basically the same, but isn’t churning out the same movie 4 times a good reason to hate it? I really enjoyed the first film and I keep docking each subsequent film half a star for a failure to sufficiently advance the story. This one was even less relevant since it introduced a completely new family and essentially disregarded the sisters that had been the focus of the series.

      I get what you’re saying though. You convinced me a little.


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        But here’s the thing – if Wyatt is in-fact actually Hunter as the film implies, then that family does play a relevant role in advancing the story – so it’s not like a completely random family; the overall family is now expanding, and the new members introduced in this installment definitely have ties to Toby since they adopted Hunter – if that is in-fact what happened. So, this installment showing this new family who now have custody of Hunter makes sense.

        And I love the way the story is stretching out. It’s like a series more so than a mere horror franchise the way they just continue on with the same story, although expanding…

        And one thing I have been telling folks is they may realize that PA4 isn’t so bad after all, once the franchise wraps and the whole story unfolds. I think PA4 is way more relevant than people realized upon initial viewing.

        Not sure if you’ve ever seen the show “Dexter”, but I love the series and series’ like that. One season of Dexter consists of 13 fifty minute episodes. Do the math and that comes to 650 minutes which is just under 11 hours. Take the “Saw” series that had 7 parts about 90 minutes a piece and that comes to 630 minutes, which is about 10 & a half hours.

        People were complaining about the “Saw” franchise being too long and drawn out, etc. but I disagree. I think it played out like a season of a cable series. You just had to wait a year for the new episode, but that’s okay as long as the story remained congruent.

        And that’s how I feel about the PA franchise, as well.

        But I will say one thing that the franchise may have done wrong to severely perturb fans of the franchise and that was the marketing for PA4 promoting it with the tagline “It all comes down to this”. I think THAT was why people left unsatisfied b/c they were expecting a conclusion and some answers; but instead left with more questions.

        I honestly think the content is strong enough they need not to use cheap marketing ploys to draw in moviegoers. Just be straight up and give us a more fitting tagline. I think if they had done that then maybe people would not have had such high expectations for this installment and wouldn’t have been so agitated.

        I guess for you and others who hated PA4 you probably don’t even need to go see the new one and maybe wait until the series wraps and play it by ear and see if it had a strong ending, and if so then maybe just watch the remaining parts back-to-back on DVD, or something. I will definitely check out PA5 at the theater (Lord willing) and let you know how it is, and if I think it added anything new, or if it’s just same-old, same-old. Even if I like it I wouldn’t automatically recommend to you; only if it has some new aspects that I think you’d be interested in. Hey, maybe it will! 🙂


    • I didn’t even mention the conclusion. Yes it was pretty unsatisfying, but it was consistent to the way these films tend to end.

      You certainly make a better case for this series than I’ve ever heard. However it still all comes down to the fact that we’re watching a lot of empty rooms waiting for things to happen. Suddenly a door closes loudly.

      I will probably see PA5, but on video.


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        I actually loved the ending of PA4. When Katie surfaces into the hallway…that crept me out; and then when she started charging that got my heart-rate up; and then when you see she’s actually a demon. That was one of the freakiest sequences I’ve seen in a horror movie. I honestly was not expecting that. I really didn’t know what to expect when Alex went into the house. I knew it wouldn’t be good, but I didn’t know what – and that’s why I like this franchise so much b/c you never really know what’s going to occur on the final sequence – and so far each installment has given us some crazy ending; part 2 when Katie went into the baby’s room and killed her sister was just insane; and then part 3 was extremely intense (and LONG, too!). I need to stop thinking about this b/c now I’m getting anxious for the next piece of the puzzle and have a long wait ahead of me! lol.


  10. I do love these sorts of films even though I can be quite critical of their lack of invention. Enjoyed the first three – especially the first one – so I’ll get around to seeing this once it appears on TV.

    …and there’s another one on its way, you say! Just how far can they take this story (although I said the same about Saw and Jigsaw just keeps on coming!).


  11. Not surprised to hear that this series is already getting tired. I don’t know how long I could put up with the same found footage gimmicks before growing weary. I’m just glad I didn’t bother seeing this.


  12. Bah, I’ve only seen the first and third Paranormal Activity films, and I hated both. I’ll be giving this one a miss haha.


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