Review: “Paranormal Activity 4” feels stale, predictable

Ryan Morris

Editor’s note: The following reflects the opinion of the author.

Fans of the “Paranormal Activity” series might be disappointed by the latest installment. “Paranormal Activity 4” moves along even more slowly than the first three movies and fails to answer any remaining plot hole questions.

The first installment of the series brought a fresh change to the horror movie genre.  Instead of a gory slasher film, director Oren Peli created spine-chilling, tense scenes that built towards a shocking climax.

The second “Paranormal” followed the same model and added an explanatory back-story to thicken the plot.  After “Paranormal Activity 2,” though, things fell flat.

The scares in the third movie were almost all repeats of techniques used in the first two, and the new characters did almost nothing to explain the mythology behind the activity in the house, as they were originally intended to do.

Sadly, “Paranormal Activity 4” does nothing to reverse this trend.  The scares are all stale and though the characters are a little different—the main victim is a teenage girl instead of a young couple—the climax fails to deliver anything new.

Even the biggest “Paranormal Activity” fans will find this installment predictable. It uses the same camera technique—victims set up cameras around the house to monitor the activity—though this time, with laptops.  Much of the film is seen through shots of the sleeping occupants of the house, to keep the audience guessing where the next creepy noise or unexpected motion will occur.

One of the only new scare tactics revolves around a Nintendo Wii. Through the night vision of one of the cameras set up in the house audiences see motion detection shots of the ghosts in the house, from the sensors of the Wii.

The film’s climax is the most unsatisfactory of the four movies.  It appears too suddenly to be all that scary and ends just as quickly.  And if viewers have seen the previous movies, then they’ve seen almost this exact ending before.

Overall, the “Paranormal Activity” franchise has run its course, and “Paranormal Activity 4” has failed to bring it back to life.

Rating: One out of four stars.

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, Senior A&E Reporter