Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Paranormal Activity 4
Packing more scares than all previous installments, Paranormal Activity 4 is a winner. The story picks up 6 years after the original film (those keeping track might recall that Paranormal Activity 3 was actually a prequel set in the 1980s) and follows a new family: parents who are not getting along, teenage daughter Alex, and 6 year old son Wyatt. One day “Robbie”, a strange little 6-year old, wanders into their yard from across the street. Apparently his mother was taken to the hospital for reasons unknown and Robbie has no place to go. With no other recourse the family takes him in while his mother recovers. This proves to be a big mistake. As strange things start occurring, Alex’s boyfriend sets up laptops and other surveillance equipment throughout the house to capture potential otherworldly activity. Before long it becomes apparent that there is something very wrong with Robbie and the family is in grave danger.
No other franchise in recent memory better illustrates the subjectivity of horror. The Paranormal Activity (i.e. found footage) films are downright divisive; you love and get freaked out by them or you’re bored and don’t understand all the fuss. I happen to fall into the former category. It is interesting to reflect on the horror fads over the past decade, which is easy to do when you have a handy horror blog containing hundreds of movie reviews thanks to many fine people. It started with vengeful ghosts in 1998 (e.g. The Ring, One Missed Call, Ghost Ship, etc). The tone eventually shifted to torture in 2004 (e.g. SAW, Hostel, Martyrs, etc) and starting with the original Paranormal Activity (2007) we seem to have increasingly moved into the “eerie”, found footage terrain. There will always be slashers and other sub-genres of horror available but it is interesting to following the changing fads over the years. My taste in horror has changed over this time period as well. Although I enjoy it all, the only movies that seem to get under my skin these days are the found footage films (e.g. Lake Mungo, The Tunnel, Grave Encounters, Etc.).
Paranormal Activity 4 has the usual jolts we have come to expect from this series with a few new (scary) tricks. At the core this film series is a haunted house story full of swinging chandeliers, doors opening and closing by themselves, eerie levitation, and even some strange business with an XBOX Kinect system. The series excels with the choice not to have a soundtrack and its use of pure silence much of the time. As is fast becoming the hallmark of this series the final few minutes are downright dreradful and chilling. If you didn’t like the original Paranormal Activity don’t bother with this one but if you did you’re going to love this effective sequel. Stay through the credits if you want to see a brief teaser for a Spanish spin-off.