Well, here we go again. Another year, another instalment in the consistently tiresome Paranormal Activity series. Yet I can’t bring myself to miss out on whatever the latest developments might be. Part of me knows that I am going to be massively disappointed but part of me always hopes for the best. I should give up. Oh, and before I continue with this review, I should say that I was able to get in to this cinema screening for free. And I STILL wanted my money back.
I can’t say that this is a terrible film. There are jump scares that are well executed and even one or two moments that nicely play on shocks from the earlier movies. It’s better than the awful second movie but a bit worse than the third film.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return, as does writer Christopher Landon, and the activity is happening once again in the here and now after the prequel that was last year’s instalment. There’s a new family at the centre of the activity, with pretty young Alex (Kathryn Newton) being the person who decides to try and get everything recorded this time, but Katie (Katie Featherston) pops up once more and there’s the addition of a creepy kid in the shape of little Robbie (Brady Allen). Robbie seems to be a strange little boy indeed but he’s also trying to lead Alex’s little brother, Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), astray. Nobody seems too bothered by this behaviour, however, except Alex and her beau, Ben (Matt Shively), but everyone might be bothered by it by the time the end credits roll. Oh, and those who go to the cinema to see the movie should stay for a small post-credits moment.
The main line thrown in the face of critics when they criticise a movie is “well, let’s see you do better then” and it’s a fair point to make during a small percentage of cases, such as independent films that have at least tried to do their best even if they’ve fallen short of their intended mark. But in the case of the Paranormal Activity films I know that I COULD do better. First of all, I’d have some more actual activity. Secondly, I wouldn’t have stretched the premise way beyond breaking point with a series of increasingly implausible sequels (okay, one is a prequel but you know what I mean). Points go to Oren Peli, of course, for coming up with a concept so simple and yet so effective but it’s a shame to see this one-trick pony being dragged out year after year to entertain crowds when the trick wasn’t actually all that good the first time around.
The cast here are okay, I guess. It’s hard to separate my feelings for them as individuals with my feelings for characters who act so stupid when in the situation depicted. Kathryn Newton is okay while Katie Featherston shows that she peaked with the first movie. Matt Shively is likeable enough but the best people onscreen are young Brady Allen and Aiden Lovekamp, giving decent performances as kids in a spooky situation without any evil tics or expressions on display.
There is some more added to the bigger picture here but it’s so little coming after so much of the same old same old that it’s hard not to feel angry at the makers of the movie for just . . . . . . . . . . . extracting the urine while also feeling angry at yourself for sitting there and watching the damn thing with any shred of hope left. One or two moments ARE good, including a nice use of a Kinect system, and the last few minutes are pretty scary but it’s not enough to make up for the scenes in which nothing happens or the scenes in which something happens but people don’t decide to check out that particular piece of footage. Then we have that old problem, the moments in which characters continue to film what’s going on around them when you know that the time has come to ditch the recording equipment and get the hell out of Dodge.
I didn’t like the film but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been so I guess I’ll just have to give it a distinctly average rating and try to contain my anger until I find myself in the cinema next October, hating myself and awaiting the start of Paranormal Activity 5.
DIRECTOR: HENRY JOOST, ARIEL SCHULMAN
WRITER: CHRISTOPHER LANDON, STORY BY CHAD FEEHAN
STARS: KATHRYN NEWTON, KATIE FEATHERSTON, MATT SHIVELY, BRADY ALLEN, AIDEN LOVEKAMP, ALEXONDRA LEE, STEPHEN DUNHAM, SPRAGUE GRAYDEN
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX