Some people might say “Why are they making another Paranormal Activity movie? Don’t they know that horror movie sequels start having a diminishing return where quality is concerned? Especially if the original is a goddamn found-footage crap tank like Paranormal Activity was?” Well, I’m here to tell you that those people are very astute and clever and they are also me.
Paranormal Activity 4 is an exercise in grab-bag horror movie-making. Just dump a bunch of well-worn scares into a hat and start pulling. “Oh! A creepy kid!…How clever…never saw THAT one coming.” Next thing you’ll tell me is that the house is evil, the killer only attacks people when they are alone and every other stupid trope that Scary Movie made fun of 1,000 years ago. The real crime here is that even though it was a found-footage crap tank, the original Paranormal Activity had some clever bits and some genuine scares. Not revolutionary…but you know…knuckle the kid who picks his nose on the chin for almost not fouling out on the fastball. The newest incarnation of the franchise though has that same kid doing cartwheels in the outfield while pop flies fall all around him like bits of the Mir Space-station.
The nicest thing I can say about it is that unlike its markedly better predecessors, it looks less like a found-footage crap tank and more like a lightly over-produced low-budget crap tank. The shots are just a little cleaner and in focus without all the jittering and microphone windscreen huffing that makes this “genre” apparently unkillable. So really, its biggest attribute is that it does a poor job of representing its genre.
The acting, by a bunch of people for the most part that had nothing to do with the first 3 movies, is uneven at best. And by “uneven” I mean almost uniformly terrible, but the creepy little kid does a moderately decent job of being a creepy little kid. Not that that’s even that difficult. Their little creepy fingers…touching everything…always sticky…blech! The family that drives the storyline are portrayed meaningfully by every generic white person in a horror movie ever. I mean they probably have names but I’ll be more willing to learn them when they are serving me dinner in a few years. I’ll be able to read it right off their nametags. Because they suck. And won’t be acting anymore. Get it?
Paranormal Activity 4 is going to make a lot of money, because like the other movies in this franchise, they cost about 45 cents to make, and earn a squillion dollars. It’s just regrettable that every year when Halloween rolls around we have to endure another year of insipid dreck simply because it resembles a horror movie we once kinda liked. Maybe go on a hayride instead of watching this.