EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "Paranormal Activity 4." Want to be a film fan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 out of 4 stars
You probably know by now whether or not the "Paranormal" franchise is your cup of tea. The fourth one is not much different from the last three, and if they dreadfully decide to make a fifth one, something tells me it will be just as bad. It's a complete bore from beginning to end.
In the first 30 minutes, nothing happens. The next 45, a couple of jump-scares by falling chandeliers and a yawn-to-snore "writing on the wall" sequence that we've seen way too many times in past horror attempts. The last 10 minutes or so, it picks up just enough to wake you out of the slumber you may have found yourself in, only to end minutes later without an ounce of clarity about what just happened.
I'm pretty sure the only people who found it scary in the theater that I was in was a group of 13-year-old teeny-boppers sitting right behind me and the girl to my right who would only take a break from wolfing down her popcorn to quiver at the never ending amount of stifled genre conventions this movie had to offer (she must have been about 13 as well).
All in all, this movie is exactly what you would expect from a franchise that should not have ever made it past the first installment.
-- Michael Gorgoglione, Dacula
2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars
"Paranormal Activity 4" begins where the previous installment of this horror flick series left off. The opening scene is a flashback, and it occurs before any credits or studio logos. This abrupt beginning sets a fitting tone for the film, which trades smooth transitions for roughly cut scenes with truncated dialogue and jarring editing.
At the heart of the film is Alex, a stereotypical teen who spends most of her time on the cellphone, computer or with her boyfriend Ben. Over two weeks time, Robbie, a young boy from next door, comes to stay with Alex's family while his mother is in the hospital. Unexplainable things start happening in the house. Several members of the family witness the oddities, but choose not to discuss the strange goings-on with one another. And while the first few episodes of paranormal activity are playful and only somewhat mysterious, things soon turn much more violent and gruesome. The film takes its time in the early scenes to establish relationships between the characters, but the last third of the film is quickly paced and rather tense.
As we've come to expect in the previous "PA" movies, much of the perspective is from a jittery, handheld camera. Scenes are shot widely, making it difficult for the viewer to know what or who to focus on (especially with little dialogue and an abundance of silence). This creates an uneasiness which adds greatly to the suspense, especially when a night vision camera is introduced in the living room. The dialogue feels improvised at times, which makes the actors seem less like Hollywood stars and more like the family next door.
"Paranormal Activity 4" has practically no soundtrack; a handful of songs are listed in the final credits, but they are incidental and do little to add to the drama or suspense. Rather, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman utilize silence and the natural sounds of an empty house (including the ticking of a clock, the incessant wheezing of a humidifier and the gentle thump of a house cat leaping from furniture to floor) to add both realness and tenseness to several scenes.
Stick around for an odd, short scene (with dialogue entirely in Spanish) after the silent closing credits. How does one say "sequel" en espanol?
-- Paul Tate, Sugar Hill
1/2 out of 4 stars
This film fails miserably on a variety of levels. First of all, the cast is very boring and not effective except for Alex, who is played by Kathryn Newton, the teenage daughter of the highlighted family. The movie is a fake symbol due to a screenplay that does not deliver and discredits the horror film industry. Its use of night vision is sophomoric, its constant jumping to black screens is distracting and annoying, and the movie is not scary and borders on predictable.
Nevertheless, all is not well in the neighborhood as the family next door is weird and a made up malfeasance results in a young boy entering another family's home that is way off the goofy scale at the get go, kind of like an appointed foster home. Then the pathetic tale unwinds in a crawling fashion as the family discovers they are "it" and bad things are coming. The slow pace and the weak consequences result in a very lame picture of great proportion. So guys, not a lot to see here to say the least. Avoid this sad mess at all costs.
-- Rick Wright, Auburn