This review was originally posted on Criticize This!
By now most people know what to expect from the Paranormal Activity films, and Paranormal Activity 4 is more of the same. Lots of scenes of quiet, empty rooms, a few jump scares, and not much in way of a story. But this is more about the experience and just like the other films, PA4 is a lot of fun to watch, especially in a theatre full of screaming people.
Continuing from where the second part ended, Katie and her nephew Hunter are still missing. Cut to a suburban neighbourhood with a nice, normal family who have a weird boy lingering around their house. One thing leads to another and soon the weird boy is living with them. Then strange things begin to happen and… well, that’s about all I can say unless you want me to spoil it.
I really enjoyed where directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman took Paranormal Activity 3 and was hoping this one would stray a bit and offer up something unique. Unfortunately, it seems they just went through the same motions as the first and second film and kept to the formula. While I enjoyed this one more than the first, it’s not even close to the second or third in terms of being well executed or remotely believable (the cameras recording it all really make no sense this time around).
What is better about PA4 is the acting. Kathryn Newton, who plays the daughter of the new family being terrorized, is outstanding in her role. She’s funny, sells the fear she’s supposed to be feeling, and is all around great to watch. As her best friend, Matt Shively does a great job too and is equally stellar in his part. I hope to see more of them in normal roles down the road.
If you expect something different than the previous films, or analyze every detail of it, you’ll probably be disappointed with PA4. If you go in wanting to be scared and freaked out though, and let yourself get absorbed into it, the film delivers.
Rating: *** (out of 5 stars)