The first Paranormal Activity seemingly came out of nowhere, and it generally creeped out most audiences, but in Hollywood, if you can make loads of moola on the cheap, why not do it again, and again, and again? The fourth entry however, just seems like beating a dead horse.
When a franchise gets to its fourth entry, it’s either because it’s really good or because it makes a ton of cash. Paranormal Activity is the latter, with latest film being the lowest point of the steady decline. So why is it bad? Because it simply reuses the same tired old formula, and when a horror film reuses a formula, it usually ends up as a repetition of the same stale routine, different generic characters.
As before, the film uses a found footage style of filming (i.e. it uses handheld cameras and CCTV), but it’s obvious that the cameras used were of a decent quality with a crumby filter to make the footage look degraded. Nevertheless, the acting is cheesy and notably um…terrible, and the story is even cheaper. The producers even wrote a little bit of product placement into the script – the main characters, after discovering the supernatural events turn on their Xbox kinect sensor which combined with a night vision function on their camera, allows them to see the demonic spectre.
Paranormal Activity 4 is just a film that proves that its series already has both feet in the grave – there is no tension, there are no scares, and despite it having a constant air of intrigue, it just never pays off and the after the repetitive mess is over, the climax is just absurd and silly – not to the point of laughter but more of an insult that the audience had to wait an entire film for a kick in the nuts.
It’s not often that I sympathise with directors that are sellouts, but I can tell that Joost and Shulman were running on fumes, and it is obvious given the lazy script that insults its viewers. But to be honest, the people who are willing to see this cinematic abortion, deserve to be robbed because after giving Paramount an excuse to make not one, not two, but three sequels…well that’s just asking for it. I’m sorry, but it’s the brutal truth of it.
I would like to say fans, but even that is stretching it.
The Bottom Line
Paranormal Activity is the series that shouldn’t be; it worked as a single entry, but all the sequels seem forced and number four is no exception. This film is definitely the weakest of the series and one of the lamest horror films that I have ever had the misfortune of watching – it is boring beyond comparison and lacks any scares, and scares are the foundation of any horror. What we are left with is a film where the audience plays the role of a security guard, endlessly staring into the void of uneventful CCTV footage.