‘Paranormal’ Is Too Normal With Not Enough Activity
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The very fact that the fourth installment in the Paranormal Activity series was even made is cause for wariness of the actual quality of the movie. Before watching the film, one might think the filmmakers are beating a dead horse to a pulp, and as if unsatisfied, continuing to beat that pulp. The subject has been exhausted, and viewers know it. Attempting to bring some novelty to the situation, Paranormal Activity 4 was displayed in IMAX in order to amplify the horror and make it look even more real.
The whole concept of this series is that the paranormal occurrences are being caught on tape by regular people who notice bizarre incidences in their home. It is not supposed to look like a movie, but rather a semi-disjointed series of footage that was put together after the tragedy happened. The series jumps around in time, and the fourth chapter takes place five years after the end of the second movie (the timeline is a bit peculiar, but that makes it more interesting). The person who created the concept, Oren Peli, did not direct the sequels. The fourth was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who had been involved in the making of the third film. The story of Paranormal Activity 4 centers on a teenage girl, Alex, and her family. A woman moves into the house across the street with an eccentric little boy and asks Alex’s family to take him in for a few weeks while she is in the hospital. The creepy little boy, Robbie, always leaves his bed in the middle of the night and wanders around the house acting strangely. He speaks in a dry tone and mentions imaginary friends, leading Alex and her boyfriend to believe there is something seriously wrong with him. Her mother refuses to believe her when she says there is something wrong with Robbie, so she sets up cameras around the house in order to catch him doing something weird. Supernatural forces begin to act upon Alex and her family, and it is all caught on camera.
Overall, the story progression of this film was well-constructed. The actors did their job well and made it seem natural. A positive feature was that the filmmakers incorporated video chat into it. Several scenes were video conversations between Alex and her boyfriend, and this was an interesting twist on the homemade video idea. It is impossible to analyze this movie as a solo unit, however, because it is has already been so heavily influenced by the fact that there are three other films of this nature. The first Paranormal Activity was leaked online before it got to movie theaters. People were talking about it but there was no advertising for it. The actors were completely unknown and maintained their real names. The movie had no credits at the end except for a title thanking the families of the deceased for releasing this footage. All these factors made it seem extremely real, like it was not actually a movie but footage found after an unfortunate mishap. This was the basis of its appeal. It was ruined by the very fact that sequels were made, and that these sequels were so heavily publicized and became more Hollywood-esque with each installment. For these reasons, Paranormal Activity 4 was an okay movie, but it was bland. There was nothing novel about it, and watching it felt like going through the motions. It was an exhausted concept, and this greatly hindered the potential of the film. I would recommend this movie to those looking for a cheap thrill or for those who have seen the first three movies and want to see what happens in the end. If not, do not expect a gem of the horror movie genre. This one will not keep you up at night. Horror film enthusiasts looking for a thrill on Halloween should stay home and rent a classic. It was a sweet attempt, but definitely not worth the trip.