By Spencer Pressly
Horror is marketed a lot in movies, but very rarely does it actually work in the final product. Still, the “Paranormal Activity” series actually managed to be scary and remain popular after four yearly sequels.
After the vast change in the third movie, “Paranormal Activity 4” tries to go back to modern times and focus on a new family. This leads to a familiar but still scary movie while not really pushing the series forward as much as it could have.
At first the movie seems to be just another family experiencing another odd series of events. After a somewhat slow opening showing the main girl, Alex, and the people in her life, things ramp up.
Alex has a neighbor across the street named Robbie and after Robbie’s mom is sent to the hospital he lives with them for a few days. This is when things start getting strange in Alex’s house and she decides to set up all of the laptops in her house to record at all times with her boyfriend’s help. Without giving anything away this movie decides to have the thrills bigger and earlier than past movies.
Still in past movies the need to set up camera and record everything comes mainly from a main character having an obsession with finding out what is going on. Alex starts off curious and scared, but not once in the movie does she actually go back to look at the past footage. The excuse for why she doesn’t is that she can never remember the username or password to look at the recordings.
This takes away a big part of the film where we see what happens to the family in the night and then the next day they are horrified to find out what happened. Having the 15-year-old girl forget something that simple really takes away one of the best parts of these movies.
The fact that this movie does actually scare is a testament to a movie on its fourth title now. The scenes have you scanning all over almost like a “Where’s Waldo?” book looking for anything that might catch you by surprise. Even knowing something might come out of nowhere, it still is able to surprise you.
Modern day-additions like iPhone filming and using the Kinect make the experience feel a bit cheapened. On the other side, the laptop camera angles give a personal feel when a character is actually using it and leads to many memorable moments.
Surprisingly the rest of the cast does a good job and Alex’s boyfriend Ben feels the closest thing to a real teenager in the whole movie. Ben could have had a better-developed relationship with Alex instead of only seeing them as an average teenage couple. Also, seeing a certain character return from the past three movies makes this one feel more connected to the past movies than you may think at first.
When it comes down to it, “Paranormal Activity 4” will not answer many questions the past films have presented, but it does a good job telling a scary story. Nothing makes this feel like a drastically different movie, but still a solid enough film that fans of the past movies will enjoy. The future of the series still has a lot of potential and the fourth iteration sets this up well enough to make you want more next year.
Contact Spencer Pressly, staff reporter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.