Paranormal Activity – 4 – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on October 24, 2012 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Oren Peli, Jason Blum, Steven Schneider
DIRECTOR – Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
WRITER – Zack Estrin, Christopher B. Landon
CAST – Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Brady Allen
The witches’ coven doesn’t take deals lightly, taking what is theirs at all costs. The Paranormal Activity series, over three films have established this without doubt. Now comes part 4 to further the terror of the demonic cult surrounding the lives of Katie and Hunter (her sister, Kristie’s first-born male child).
It is 2011 and a family begins to sense the presence of paranormal phenomena in their house. Fifteen yr-old Alex discovers a lonely neighbour’s child, Robbie, in the tree house of her garden. Next morning she learns her mother has taken him in as his mother is unwell. Alex finds Robbie and her own kid brother Wyatt talking to an invisible friend and sees a figure detected by the infra-red sensors of the camera of her boyfriend. They install more such cameras to monitor the household and find distinct phenomena pointing to the supernatural. Soon enough every family member begins to encounter eerie events. The plot begins to thicken as we come to know that little Wyatt is adopted. Just then a suspicious Alex finds a demonic symbol drawn on him by Robbie and begins to discover what it could really mean.
In keeping with the narrative style of the series, the film unfolds through recorded footage. Also, true to the tradition nothing is explained, details left to the audience’s previous knowledge of the film’s history, as shown in the previous parts.
Technically a sequel to part-2, part-4 has Katie in a significant role since it was she who had the last laugh in that film. For those familiar with the series her appearance is a turning point and for the unaware it takes on the tones of a deeper mystery. However, this mystery takes way too long to unfold for both sections of audience.
The found footage genre (made popular by films like Blairwitch Project, Paranormal Activity, REC, Cloverfield and others) depends on a tight visual language that surpasses the attendant breaks in narrative and the lack of the fourth wall. While part-1, 2 and 3 managed it with a certain swiftness, the technique becomes tedious in part-4. A lack of unnerving thrills and chills results from too much of an emphasis on creating atmospheric horror. The result is something similar to part-2; nothing really happens and when it does, it is way too late for us to be still interested in it.
As a part of a by-now popular franchise, the series treats its story with a sense of progression without mulling over the details. It remains loyal to its origins and simply gives us the dots to connect without connecting them for us. However, when we do, what we find doesn’t come together to be as interesting as the previous films.
A part of the film’s failure to capture our imagination lies in the lacklustre performances of all involved. Kathryn Newton as Alex never manages to make the horrors she is undergoing as truly visceral. Stephen Dunham as Doug and Alexondra Lee as Holly, her no-longer-in-love parents strike an amazingly dull note. To an extent the children, Brady Allen as Robbie and Aiden Lovekamp as Wyatt Nelson bring in a certain element with Brady’s subtly sinister performance and Wyatt’s lightly enigmatic one but it simply isn’t enough to pull the film out of its slumber. This time round, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost do not manage to create the same intrigue they did in their previous film, leaving this one to be fare for strict loyalists.