Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Matt Shively, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham
It’s closer than you think
It’s been five years since the murder of Kristie Rey and her husband. It’s assumed that Kristie’s sister Katie was responsible since her boyfriend was found murdered the night before. She and Kristie’s son Hunter has gone missing ever since.
A teenage girl named Alex and her family lives on the same street and finds a young abandoned boy named Robbie wandering around alone. The family let’s him stay with them since his mother is supposed to be ill and shortly after he has entered their house, paranormal stuff starts to occur.
Some might be tired of these films by now, but I still think they can be fun and even scary if done right. The point of view filming has a lot of potential and it is very effective on me. I do think that none of the films have used its full potential yet and didn’t care much for the second film, but did enjoy some of the tricks in the third even though the story went a way I didn’t care for.
So here we are with the fourth one. Another film that did very well in box office, but was received the worst by critics and fans. Were they only tired of the film? No, this is definitely the worst out of the four and it has such a terrible story that I have a hard time believing that a professional screenwriter was behind it.
I was hoping that they would go away from the story of the same family from the three first movies, but it seems like they are obsessed about them and tied this film in with them again. That being said, if they had taken their time to bother making a coherent story then perhaps it could have worked. That means they would have to bring the story further, which this does not at all.
The filming this time is done by the teenage daughter Alex. She is a nice, well-behaved and mature teenage girl who also have a boyfriend in Ben. It seems like their lives only consist of each other for some reason since neither of them are ever shown with any friends. You kind of expect at least one friend to pop in to this young, blonde and probably popular girl.
These two are the only ones that take notice of the strange things that are starting to happen, while Alex’s parents just seems oblivious or careless whenever they are around. It would have been nice with some explanation on where the hell these parents are all the time since they just show up randomly from time to time, leaving Alex in care for her younger brother Wyatt.
A found footage film with a teenager as the main star could very quickly become annoying, but young Kathryn Newton is very likeable and charming as Alex. She seems to be quite a good actress and it makes you look past some of the terrible decisions that are written for the character. What teenage girl would just accept that her boyfriend has been filming her while she has been sleeping all night? It’s also sort of weird to see a movie with a voyeuristic view that focus on such a young girl, but I’m happy that they for once let a teenager play a teenage role.
I’m surprised that directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman didn’t provide more scares here since they worked quite well with the formula in the previous film. I also question their decision to go with a Grave Encounter type of demon during the ending and felt that it was just not necessary. They do know that it’s wise to keep away from shakiness with the camera thankfully and as has been the case with all of these films, they feel the need to introduce a new way of filming, this time being with an Xbox Kinect.
Paranormal Activity 4 might be a commercial success, but I’m sure that the fifth entry will be hurt by the lack of quality and scare that this one brings to the table. Hopefully they will give us something entirely new with the next one and also bring in a new team that will focus more on creeping the viewer out. There’s still plenty of potential left with these sort of films, sadly they didn’t even come close to living up to it with this one.