Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

A boy at her door.

Not to personalize my critique too much, but the most frightening moment about Paranormal Activity 4 was when I tripped on a buffer cord coming out of the theater. The pain and embarrassment of my clumsiness, however, was nowhere near the agony I felt while watching what I hope will be the final installment of this ridiculous franchise that now firmly ranks among the worst of the horror/haunting genre.

The minuscule plot could be about a little boy named Hunter/Wyatt who might have been kidnapped by a crazed aunt (Katie Featherston, from the last three “PA” films) and then perhaps was adopted by a cardboard suburban family — dad, Doug (Stephen Dunham, “Savages“), mom, Holly (Alexondra Lee, “Shopgirl“) and pretty but vacant teenage sis, Alex (Kathryn Newton, “Bad Teacher“). Then, there also might be a creepy kid named Robbie (Brady Allen, who makes the boy on “Problem Child” appear sweet, tender and loving), who seems to live in Alex’s treehouse.

I use words like “could,” “maybe” and “perhaps” here because, during most of the movie, I had NO idea what was going on. Filmed in “Cloverfield”-Vision, Paranormal Activity 4 is nothing more than a series of vignettes that attempt to frighten but only succeed in inducing either muffled laughs or extreme bordom. In it’s mercifully short 88-minute running time, this picture still laps itself in complete tedium.

And, for a supposed horror/ghost film, there is not one genuine scary moment to be found (believe me, I looked). There are loud noises, some shadows that cross the scene, a ball that bounces down some stairs, a room full of disco lights, a cat that comes and goes and a levitating girl. The only real terror is the performance of Alex’s extremely annoying boyfriend, Ben (“Bucket and Skinner’s Epic Adventures” TV series, I know, I’ve never heard of it, either), who seems to come into the house at any hour he wants.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

A late night walk.

Trying to capture what little suspense the first installment, “Paranormal Activity,” contained, co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return to the same well the series is famous for: Dark, grainy cam footage. This time, as technology advances, the afflicted attempt to use a series of laptops to record the increasingly “scary” events in several rooms of the house. The problem, other than the notion we’ve seen it all before, is when this point-of-view is established, it must be kept consistent. Unfortunately, it’s not — to drive the movie along characters seem to be recording EVERYTHING in their lives, even scenes in which they could not possibly be recording themselves.

It’s small things like that, coupled with the wooden acting and lack of true scares and direction that fail Paranormal Activity 4. The fact it also rips off from much better examples of the genre — “Poltergeist,” “The Shining” and “The Blair Witch Project” and steals from not-so-good movies, such as “Silent House,” and “The Haunting” doesn’t help the cause either.

A total waste of technology and energy, my best advice is to skip Paranormal Activity 4 and to save your precious money for something much more terrifying, such as the sequel to “Bridesmaids” or “The Hangover Part III.”

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
1 Star Rating: Stay Away


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)' have 15 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 11:18 am Scorpio

    It’s like deja vu – same damn thing as PA3.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 12:02 pm petriDish

    It’s all about anticipation, Greg. Fear of not knowing if there is something lurking in the dark…

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 12:35 pm FieldJudge

    Each movie they change how the video footage is captured-how do you suppose they’ll collect it for #5? Spy cameras in the teddy bear to keep an eye on the babysitter? Camera-enabled AirHog squadron?

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 1:40 pm Gerd

    Annoying family, happy to watch them get whats coming to them. Especially the girl and her jerkoff boyfriend.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 1:51 pm timloftin

    go with V/H/S instead.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 2:22 pm DogRuler

    Franchise is tired to the bone. Let it sleep. Permanently.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 7:36 pm MikeClinton

    Glass half full: There is no SAW installment defecating on Halloween with Paranormal Activity.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      October 22, 2012 @ 6:39 pm Bob Parker

      At least the makers of Saw dreamed up new “ingenious” ways to maim and kill each installment. Can’t say that about the makers of Paranormal Activity.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 7:37 pm Rose

    Jump scares still do the trick for me.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 21, 2012 @ 9:19 pm simon chet


    Witches ruin the show


  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 22, 2012 @ 2:44 am KAOS KLOWN

    The theater experience heightens the scare factor. I’d recommend a late night viewing to get the most out of it.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 22, 2012 @ 2:58 pm SmartAxe

    I’m skipping all further PAs until they get to 13. I’m betting it’ll get good again when it reaches the devil’s number.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 22, 2012 @ 11:12 pm Maurice

    They’ll milk this cow long after it is unmilkable. Moo.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 23, 2012 @ 6:27 pm Claudia

    Do not waste your time.

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 25, 2012 @ 10:14 am Ghastly

    It;s one big fat YAWN.

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