Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Well, it's Halloween time and you know what that means...time for another 'Paranormal Activity' film. But wait! It's 2013 and there will be no new 'Paranormal Activity' film this year. So in a new films absence we at the DW went back and took a second look at the last entry in the series : 'Paranormal Activity 4.'

Here's a quick recap of the series if you've been hiding under a rock: The first 'Paranormal Activity' film, written and directed by Oren Peli, was a surprise hit. Remembered almost more for it's keen marketing than it's content, the film was nonetheless an effectively scary haunted house film for the new millennium, 'PA' kicked open the doors on the "found footage" film craze.  Extremely profitable, a sequel was inevitable. One year later, 'Paranormal Activity 2' dropped into theaters. It followed pretty much the same formula as the first - except it sucked. The less said the better. Still profitable, the series pushed forward with a third installment. This time the franchises reigns were given to Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. The duo had made waves the year before with their fake documentary hit 'Catfish' (yes it's fake - deal with it). Serving as a prequel to the first film, 'Paranormal Activity 3' was a big step up from the second film. Making even more money than the first film, it's success guaranteed a forth film. With Joost and Schulman back at the controls, the odds of a second straight successful sequel were pretty damn good.

We pick up very quickly with Kristi and and her baby, Hunter. Katie shows up and kidnaps little Hunter. Fast forward five years later to Hendersonville Nevada for some reason. There is a youth soccer situation going on (I'm sure they will all get medal, so who cares who wins). Little Wyatt is pretty terrible, but...medal. At home Wyatt has an older (but still jailbait) sister, Alex. Alex has a boyfriend, Ben - who is some sort of computer magician. There is also a very strange boy, Robbie, who likes to hang out in their playhouse. Unbeknownst to the family (there is a mom and dad, but they aren't really given anything to do), Katie is parading around as Robbies mom. That is until she's hauled away by the authorities for some reason. Robbie moves in across the street - and creepy things start happening.

Or rather, creepy things are supposed to start happening. Here's the main problem with 'Paranormal Activity 4' - it's boring as fuck. It focuses on the kids, namely Alex and Ben as they try to figure out who Robbie is so creepy and why Wyatt seems to like talking to the TV. There is supposed to be a surprise as to Wyatts identity, but it's not really a surprise - nor is it really treated as some sort of big reveal. It just kind of happens. And that's the best way to describe the film - it just kind of happens.

'Paranormal Activity 3' did a lot to fill in some of the blanks missing in the first two films of the series. Part 4 does none of that. It tries to talk about some sort of symbolism, but the symbols and the coven (established in part 3) are merely and afterthought, throw away lines, like someone said "Shit. I guess we should mention that stuff." Here none of the actual mythology of the series is advanced. It's a film that really just takes place in stasis as a point in time. Nothing new, nothing risked, everything lost.

The performances are fine. When you are dealing with a (mostly) child or adolescent cast you can't expect the world. The people here aren't bad, they are certainly not 'Let Me In' good, but they are not bad. Kathie Featherston shows up at the beginning and the end doing her zombie walk thing. Does any one out there know if we've decided if she's hot or not? She's certainly cute. But hot? She's the girl at the party that sort of catches your eye and you should probably be talking to, but instead you make for the impossible to get chick who you know you have no chance with. While you are wasting your time, your buddy has sidled up to Katie and claimed her as his own. How much further can I digress? Not much as it turns out...

'Paranormal Activity 4' is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, NetFilx and I assume other streaming video services (the one's I don't have). Watch it if you are a completest. If not skip it and watch something good.

** stars out of *****

As always : Thanks for reading and "Enjoy every sandwich."

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