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It is often said that the key to good comedy is timing. I firmly believe that this is also the case for a good horror. A well timed jump scare or good pacing can be so effective. The problem with Paranormal Activity 4 is that it doesn't have either or any scares or tension at all for that matter.
I am a fan of the first three films (although have been aware of the diminishing returns that the series has had), I am however not a fan of the current trend in Ghost story films of endless gore or each scare being advertised by a screaming musical queue. The lack of gore and screeching music meant that I really enjoyed the structure of the first few films. The tension is well built with silence and natural or un-natural noises.
The previous films also made good to excellent use of the limitations that was placed on the filming by it being "found footage". Being inventive with where the camera could be placed and how the shot was framed. This resulted in further tension as I would scan the screen looking into the dark corners trying to find where the next jump would come from or which object was going to move.
I went into this with low expectations but hoping for at least a few jumps and hopefully a little bit of fun. I was hugely disappointed. All the clever and unsettling use of silence and framing has been forgotten and replaced by close ups of faces and a directionless series of scenes that unfold at a snail's pace.
One of the biggest problems that these films have had to overcome is making the excessive use of a camera in everyday situation's feel normal. This is has been an issue with the while series fitting better into some set ups than others. In this film however the first 3rd of the film simply ignores it and expects the audience to accept that a teenage girl happily records all aspects of her life for no real purpose. This improves a little bit later in the film with the use of laptop webcams. Anything outside of this I had real difficulty with.
Some of this could be forgiven if the film provided some tension or scares, but it fails miserably. Throughout the film I was noticing items and shots that I believed would come back into play later in the film. Examples are, the daughter of the family has a bead curtain in her bedroom, a bit obvious maybe but never even utilised for a fake scare (despite the family having a cat). There is also a large mirror opposite her bedroom door, again could have been used for a simple scare or fake. There is a humidifier in the son's room; again I was sure I would see a face in the mist cloud at some point, but no. Why are these not used? It would seem that the film makers found out about the Xbox connect dots trick and decided to build the majority of the scares around that. I will admit, this does provide two very interesting scenes late in the film.
Overall, this is a film that fails on almost every level. It has forgotten the lessons that were learnt from the previous films. It does not utilise any of the tools or techniques that they have to hand and has ignored the fact that it is supposed to build a tension or a sense of fear for the characters. I can forgive that this only very loosely ties into the previous films but I cannot forgive a film that when it has ended has provided me with nothing. This is proven further by the fact that the images used for both the DVD and Blu ray cases do not even appear in the film in any way. They had to make up exciting images to advertise this bland boring mess.
Go and watch the previous three films but give this one a miss. There is another one due in 2014 but after this effort I think that this well is tapped.
Silly old me
Some things in life are certain. Day follows night, the Earth revolves around the sun, and every year around halloween, the scary film series' produce another sequel. As it turns out, the only scary thing about them is how they still manage to rape us of our hard earned cash, and continue to be a success in the box office. I was hoping Paranormal activity 4 would be different. Having seen only the original film before, and quite liking it, I felt that this film may quench my thirst for fear. How wrong I was.
Kathryn Newton as Alex Nelson
Matt Shively as Ben
Brady Allen as Robbie
Aiden Lovekamp as Wyatt Nelson/ Hunter Rey
Alexondra Lee as Holly Nelson
Stephen Dunham as Doug Nelson
Katie Featherston as Katie
The plot (?).
In 2006 We are witness to an obviously possessed girl called Kate, kills her sister and her husband. She takes her sisters baby away, and they are not seen or heard of again.
In 2011, Alex and her family of run-of-the-mill, all American rejects are living out their boring mundane lives. That is until a new family move in next door. Although a bit weird, the new families son Robbie is liked by the family, and when his mom gets taken away ill, they take Robbie in, and that's when everything changes. Creepy things happen, and they get progressively more violent until they reach a catastrophic crescendo, the likes of which this sleepy street will not forget.
My two cents.
We all like a good scare, yeah? It gets loads of chemicals flowing in the body, that give us all kinds of emotion, some of which verge on pleasure. That's why we hairless apes like things like roller coasters, sky diving and asking the boss for a pay rise. I am no different, and love the horror, and sci-fi film genres for this reason. A good movie can emulate these emotions. A good movie. A bad movie has the opposite effect, and becomes potentially as boring as watching paint that is already dry, well..... dry.
The first paranormal film was pretty good. It was a new kind of edgy. not just jump out of your skin edgy, but more like continually terrified edgy. It drew in the viewer and held on to them with it's demonic claws. it was a lost footage type of horror like Blair witch, but done really sharply. It was slick, well acted and ultimately did what it said on the tin.
The problem, it seems, when it comes to the fourth film in the series, is that the tin has been read too many times before. Any scares that the first film brought our way, have been played out again and again, without trying to freshen it up. Nothing here is new.
The film is equally as well acted. It has an almost identical plot line. It uses the same effects. For that reason it feels like a film you have seen before. I for one lose all interest in a film if I have seen it before, and find it hard to give it my full attention. That happened to me here. Ok, there were some trade mark 'make you jump' moments, but what went on between was complete drivel, and as such it failed to lock me in like the first film.
The film is not terrible. It contains a scare or two, and you will jump. I just don't see the point of it. That angers me, as it becomes clear to me that the only reason that the film was made, was to tear the hard earned money from our grasp. It has little or no artistic merit, and was created on a shoe-string budget to maximise any profit. It left me disappointed, at the money I spent on it, and the time I won't get back having watched it. can't recommend this film at all, when there are so many good horrors out there, that don't rely on the cheap thrill.
Has it really been 3 years since Katie and Micah first experienced strange supernatural occurrences in their home? We have sure come a long way from when the low-budget found-footage horror film managed to rack up a worldwide gross of almost ten thousand times its original production costs. Since then, the sequels have been released like clockwork every year in time for Halloween, with eager fans of the franchise helping to propel its financial gains. The almost cult-like fan base the series carries is a loyal one, with a special sneak peek screening I attended packed full of men and women ready to scream their heads off at anything that comes up on the screen. But the inevitable bad news is, the quality has also been taking a nosedive, with this fourth entry being the worst, most boring, infuriatingly lazy, stupid one yet.
A hypothetical scenario for you all: you're being terrorised by beings you do not understand. You decide to run the hell of your house. Would you take your laptop with you? Would you really make the effort to record everything that's going on with your high-tech night vision camera? Probably not. But for the sake of continuing with the film and its "footage," the young protagonist needs to make some incredibly stupid decisions, with the aforementioned being a classic example. There needs to be a camera wherever the characters go. And therein lies the problem. The first film stayed modest, and most of the crucial events occurred in one place. But wanting to expand on its ideas and ambitiously venturing into uncharted territory, the number of cameras has steadily increased over the years, and now we have ended up with so many that everything feels chaotic, not building up enough eerie, bubbling suspense that made its first entry so unique.
Exactly how long it's been since Katie (Katie Featherston) kidnapped her nephew after murdering his family, isn't quite clear not is it ever important. The child has grown up a bit since then, and is at that perfect age to be that creepy kid next door who behaves rather strangely. Noticing this kid is his neighbours across the street, a classic American family formed of two unhappily married parents and their two children. Certain unfortunate circumstances pretty much force Robbie (Brady Allen) to move in with this unsuspecting family. But soon everything starts going wrong, and in comes the caption, "Night #1," and we brace ourselves for terror.
Only, the horror aspect never quite kicks in to its full extent. The static, stationary shots are repetitive, they're no different from what we've seen before, and despite the filmmaker's obvious attempts to connect with the modern crowd (the cameras used are webcams from laptops and a kinect also makes an appearance), it's not the kind of originality that truly gives the franchise its much needed game changing quality. And what does this spooky kid get up to at night? Not much. He sometimes talks to his "imaginary" bury very real, friend, and that invisible being does get caught in several shots, which can send some shockwaves down the audience's spine, but the development stops abruptly there. The daughter, Alex (Kathryn Newton), catches on a little earlier than everyone else, which is why she's the one who sets up the cameras in the first place, with her good-for-nothing boyfriend who is completely out of his league with her.
Ah of course, the boyfriend. The slightly chubby, loud-mouth comic relief whose fate is sealed from the moment he appears on the screen. We know from the start his stupidity and crass nature will get him nowhere safe, and it's difficult not to rejoice when he eventually meets his very deserving end. There is also nothing particularly engaging about the main character who we are supposed to follow in every frame, not improving the already stale atmosphere. Only the young, silent but deadly Robbie makes something out of his fun, menacing role. He pops out of nowhere (yawn), and has some interesting, ambiguous things to say, trying single-handedly to build up some sort of suspense. The parents are there most effectively when off-beat comedy is required, with the film's main highlight involving the forgetful mother frantically searching for her disappeared kitchen knife not realising it's hovering over her head.
Struggling to truly generate the scares, the film relies more and more on sluggish, loud gotcha jump scares. Long gone are the days of subtle shifting movements, now most of what we get are sudden thuds and annoying self-congratulatory red herrings that the smug directors make full use of. And what really was the point of reintroducing Katie? The posters and other promotional material proudly state that every moment has somehow led to this. To what exactly? The finale is so rushed and poorly put together that to make sense out of just what on earth happened would be an impossible task. The final few minutes go to show the extent of laziness and careless, thoughtless planning that went into the film as a whole. It simply looks and feels atrocious, with the directors quite literally hurling scary looking things at the screen. Looking for a neat answer that pools everything together and provides a sensible ending? You're not going to find anything like that here.
Even in its fourth feature, the film is attracting a lot of attention although thankfully the financial returns haven't been as groundbreaking as the previous installments. Hopefully the disappointing numbers will act as a deterrent for anyone wanting to green light another tiresome, repetitive sequel. The franchise has used everything up now (they've used up ghosts, demons, spirits, witches etc), and to carry on would be an unnecessary insult to the first film or two that were in fact quite decent to say the least. It's always important to know when to stop, know your limits, and call it quits, retire on a high note. For "Paranormal Activity," the time is now, and please, no more.
Re-posted as it was locked before because I was forced to post it in Paranormal Activity 3 as this wasn't available yet, but since it now, I thought I'd re-post it, so here you go :)
Tonight I made the unforgivable decision of choosing to go and watch Paranormal Activity 4 as opposed to seeing Silent Hill: Revelation, seeing as it's Halloween I thought it would be a good idea to go and watch a scary movie as it would create a creepy atmosphere and just make Halloween a bit more fun, how wrong I was...once we arrived in the Cinema I was surprised to see it was completely packed, even making it impossible for me sit with my family as there were no four seats together, this forced us to split up. I was sat in front of possibly the most annoying people ever, as the film started I was afraid they were going to talk throughout the feature but luckily they calmed down after a while. As the lights went down and the trailers came on I was sad to witness a longer version of the trailer for Silent Hill: Revelation, silently hoping my choice of film wouldn't be regretful, I promised myself I would go and see my first choice at a later date.
As the film began and we all positioned ourselves for what was supposedly going to be a frightful 2 hours,
we were shown scenes from Paranormal Activity 2 and then told how "Katie and Hunter's whereabouts is currently still unknown", we were then introduced to the family who would be undergoing the "Paranormal Activity", the family consisted of Alex (The main protagonist of the film), Wyatt (the adopted younger brother), Doug (the slightly less important father) and Holly (the oblivious mother), from the start it seems as though this is your average family, the brother plays football, the sister slightly antagonises him, the father is late and the mother is caring, though as the story continues we realise something different has to occur, otherwise what would be the point in seeing it right? We witness Alex and her best friend/crush Ben back at the family's home, while messing about they decide to go outside and explore the garden only to find the neighbour's son (Robbie) sitting in their playhouse, thinking nothing really of it Alex guides Robbie back home only to be awoken later that night by the sounds of sirens arriving at the neighbours home, the next day it becomes apparent that Robbie's mum has been fled to hospital for unknown reasons, forcing the Nelson family to look after him for the next few days.
From the word go it is obvious that Robbie is a very odd child, he is very quiet and generally just gives off a creepy persona, as the film continues we watch as Robbie befriends Wyatt, disapproved by Alex although Holly seems completely fine with it. In the first scene where we get to see Robbie's character we witness Alex and Ben enter the living room to find Wyatt playing Xbox Kinect while Robbie watches supposedly because his "friend" is already playing with Wyatt, Ben turns to look at the screen to find an avatar being controlled by thin air, the beginning of the "Paranormal Activity" perhaps?
After this strange occurrence and a few other supposedly "scary" scenes, Alex discovers that Ben has found a way to make his Laptop's webcam record all activity on the webcam, so she asks him to help her set up surveillance camera's on all of the family's laptop's, which are positioned in Alex's room, Wyatt's Room, the Kitchen and the Living room.
Throughout the next few nights of recording it becomes a common occurrence for Robbie to get up during the night to talk to his "friend", Alex questions him about it but receives no reply.
One day Alex comes home to find the house "deserted" as she makes her way upstairs she finds her brothers toys laid out in a line leading to his room, as she follows them she finds her brothers secret cupboard containing a ominous sleeping set-up and an unknown person, Alex hears a noise so decides to make her way downstairs only to almost be crushed by a chandelier which is supposedly caused by Robbie who suddenly appears on the landing. This sparks Alex's determined mind to prove that Robbie is causing the "Paranormal Activity", though both her parents believe the fault came from the chandelier not being installed properly.
Another strange occurrence is when both Ben and Alex discover that Robbie has drawn symbols all over Wyatt's body resembling a circle inside of a square, they later look into the recorded footage to find that Robbie has also drawn this in a sandpit, they research the symbol only to discover that it is a Hyptusides symbol (I have no idea how you spell it) meaning fertility that is used in Pagan rituals to prepare a male child's soul for possession (Obviously), when they ask Wyatt's about the symbol he tries to remain quiet but later tells Alex that the symbol was to "make him ready".
A few nights later we witness Wyatt make his way downstairs only to start screaming "I'm not Hunter! My name's not Hunter!" at thin air while a "ghostly" figure creeps towards him, this encounter is interrupted however by Doug investigating all the noise.
In one scene we encounter Alex investigating Robbie's house after realising lots of parked vehicles over there, she peers through the gates only to flash her light onto a woman's face who says "hello" causing most of the audience to jump back in fright, I however found it hilarious.
The next crucial scene has to be when Alex is left at home to babysit both Robbie and Wyatt, only to discover they have run across to Robbie's supposedly "deserted" home, Alex goes after the two boys, angry and frustrated she follows them into the house to find almost everything covered in sheets and plastic, the beds have no mattresses and the house itself generally looks as though no one lives inside of it (very strange), she next comes across Robbie's mother, discovering she is well again (still no explanation of what was wrong with her) and leaves Robbie behind before rushing back to the house with her brother.
The night after Robbie has returned home Wyatt takes a bath only to be dragged underneath the water for at least five minutes, he later comes back up with no visual side effects, but when Holly comes to help him out he appears very quiet and distant, the same night we watch him walk into Alex's bedroom and levitate her sleeping body, which to be fair, looks very realistic, ( or as real as you can yet).
In the last scene of the movie we watch as Ben arrives at the family home after discovering more information about the symbol, unfortunately he is unable to find Alex so decides to bring up the information on her laptop, only to have his neck broken by "Katie", his body is then dragged into Alex's closet. We then see Holly return home, only to also find the house deserted, Katie throws her body around with a supernatural force and then takes her corpse to an unknown location. We then watch in "horror" as Alex and her dad return to the home only to discover Ben's body and realise it's too late, they rush over to Robbie's house, for Doug to be pulled away from Alex by Katie, Alex runs after him but fails to find her father, Katie then races at Alex with a demonic face, as Alex's attempts to escape she finds her brother who she pleads with to run away with her to much grief, she then turns and is faced with a crowd of the undead, (Wait a minute, where have we seen that before) as the suspense kills the audience the title's roll.
Kathryn Newton as Alex Nelson
Matt Shively as Ben
Brady Allen as Robbie Featherston
Aiden Lovekamp as Wyatt Nelson
Alexondra Lee as Holly Nelson
Stephen Dunham as Doug Nelson
Katie Featherston as Katie Featherston
Apart from a few ghostly shadows, there was nothing special about the effects, you can easily tell this film had a small budget.
In conclusion, I would say that instead of seeing this movie, you should just go and watch Most Haunted as you're much more likely to get scared, this movie personally for me, left me in fits of giggles throughout, when I should have been shielding my eyes. Another frustrating thing is the fact that it is supposely a sequel to Paranormal Activity 2, which I haven't seen (I've only seen Paranormal Activity 3), why make a sequel after making a 3rd movie already and finally why make the ending almost identical to the third movie?