Saturday, October 19, 2013

Film Review: Paranormal Activity 4 [Unrated] (2012)

Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"The story alone feels forgettable and uneventful, as well as ... a rushed cash-grab."

It's November 2011, Alex (Kathryn Newton) lives a seemingly normal life with her parents and little brother. Soon after arriving, a new neighbor falls ill and leaves her child, Robbie, with Alex and her family. Unfortunately for Alex, Robbie brings along an "imaginary" friend with a haunting presence.

Paranormal Activity 4 is a sequel to Paranormal Activity 2. The story is more of the same: the demon continues to haunt families that love recording their every waking moment. Some humor, a little bit of bickering, some furniture moves, long moments of silence, and so on. (This seems to be the most uneventful installment of the series by far as I'm drawing a blank after watching it about an hour ago.) The story continues into the cliché "hectic" ending, except this time it feels rushed and unfulfilling -- more so than usual.

This is a pretty straightforward found-footage horror film. It starts off with bits of comedy and family issues, and slowly the haunting becomes stronger and stronger -- but it never actually becomes an effective haunting or possession. There are a few good scenes, but most are dull, been-there-done-that scenes thay have been done better before. There are also a few spooky scenes, but not many. The ending feels out of place and rushed. There are jump-scares, but they barely work. And there is a disappointing lack of suspense and realism -- this doesn't feel like it could happen to you. Like I said, it is very uneventful and easily forgettable.

Kathryn Newton delivers a good performance -- a very believable teenage girl without being annoying or unlikable. In fact, I thought the acting was very genuine. Well, I always felt Katie Featherston delivered weak, inauthentic performances -- and that's not including her possession, "drone" walking. Paranormal Activity 4 uses the same tired found-footage formula -- this film doesn't try to innovate, and when it does, it fails to use its concepts efficiently. As far as writing, this is more of the same, using every cliche possible and making this feel like a real cash grab.

Overall, Paranormal Activity 4 is a big disappointment lacking suspense, scares, and realism. The story alone feels forgettable and uneventful, as well as feeling like a rushed cash-grab. I watched the unrated version of the film (the rated and unrated versions are now available on Netflix Streaming), and I really font know what they'd have to cut for an R-rating -- a few scenes make it feel like a strong PG-13 tops. I'd avoid paying directly, and recommend streaming through a subscription service.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence.

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