Paranormal Activity 4 Review

So thank god. The drunks were quiet tonight. Except my filmmaker buddy AJ had hiccups the whole time. The girls next to us thought it was funny though. So you know. Crisis averted.

Bullet points seemed to work well for last week’s Sinister Review (the review wasn’t sinister, that was the name of the movie) so I’ll be doing that again.

So Paranormal Activity 4. Continuing the saga of the now-actually-much-hotter-Katie (seriously I’m waiting for the books. Weight Watchers. South Beach. Atkins…. Demonic possession) and her nephew.

To think I almost gave you backstory. It’s the story of another family in another house with more video camera footage of their house being haunted ending with death and possession for all.

Point 1) The one thing I always like about these PA movies is that they keep coming up with clever and original ways to tell their stories through found footage. (As I discussed with AJ on the way home, the found footage genre wasn’t a gimmick in the first movie, but the only way that they could have made that movie compelling and frightening… all the rest are gimmicks now). Where in the second movie, it was a home DVR system, the third movie introduced the oscillating fan, and this movie introduced webcams and a laser-grid system from an Xbox Kinnect in night vision (If I still had a Kinnect I’d be trying the hell out of testing that).

The writers have gotten good at what they do, blending jump scares of the natural variety, the subtle jump scares of the supernatural variety, and comic witticisms from actually likable characters (burn in Hell Micah).

But point B) in this movie they stopped there. Apparently too bored with their own gimmicky scares and clever character, the normal progression of scares in this movie just failed. They jump right from the subtle scares to throwing people around the room before going right to the big climactic finish, running about scared in another person’s house (like they got bored and passed the script off from the 3rd movie to see if we were paying attention).

In fact, Point B1/2) it was as if the writers weren’t even trying. The one moment of actual tension in the movie (a bit of supernatural knife play) was underwhelming and brushed off in a way that seemed as if they didn’t even recognize the possibilities of such tension.

So, Point D) I was most disappointed by the lack of EPIC SCARE that had me fist-pumping like a champ in movies 2 and 3 (see: kitchen cabinets and kitchen, well, everything). But was at least rewarded with some epic creepy faces (which I’m a sucker for).

Overall, I mean, Point 6) it’s all been done before. Creativity to sustain gimmicks just isn’t enough. Especially when the scares disappoint.

Points 7,8, and E) No depth, no discussion, no originality in subject matter (the way that the first so wonderfully executed).

And yet, Point 2) I still enjoyed myself. Despite my laundry list of annoyances. And despite never actually jumping at any of their jump scares or ever actually feeling scared (which I’m not ashamed to admit the first movie or two did real work with), I still had fun. The audience still screamed and laughed. The jokes were still well played. And the plot was still entertaining. So I can’t say it’s a bad movie, even if, you know, it was.

And, Point 2.5) AJ’s hiccups were cured by the end of the climax. So there’s that.

Alright, so Point 2.8) The end WAS goddamn epic.


Post Script:

The trailer. If I recall correctly, there was a lot of upheaval about the last two movie trailers being made up mostly of scenes that weren’t in the movie, leading audiences to wrong expectations and confusion over the “reality” of the movie. The same goes for this one.

I for one, LOVE this. I fucking love it. And I hope anyone who watched the trailer for Sinister before seeing that movie in the theater LOVES this now too. To present the general idea of the movie, and the idea of how the events will go down, without actually spoiling any of the jump scares or action is FANTASTIC, and is something that many more movies need to consider. Whether that’s teaser trailers that act more as deleted scenes, or illustrating alternate versions of events, SPOILING MOVIES IN TRAILERS IS BECOMING A NATIONAL PANDEMIC, of which we’re rejecting cures. So please, call your senators or statesmen today. And think of the children.

Karl Pfeiffer appeared on the first season of the reality spinoff series, Ghost Hunters Academy, which he won, and later went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. He now works at the Stanley Hotel leading the public ghost hunts and writes for the TAPS Paramagazine. His debut novel Hallowtide dropped on the first of October, and contains far less snark than this here review. It’s about true love and a journey to Hell. And he’d love you forever if you click on over to take a look at it.

You can follow Karl on twitter @KarlPfeiffer


2 thoughts on “Paranormal Activity 4 Review

  1. CMrok93 says:

    I know I’m in the minority with this one, but I still had a good time with this flick even though it was nothing all that special from what’s been done before. Maybe I’m just too much of a fan. Good review.

    • karlpfeiffer says:

      Thanks man. That was pretty much my conclusion too. Wasn’t any good or special, but it was still pretty fun. They’ve figured out the formula for a fun movie (even if they sort of missed the formula for a great movie).

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