DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Darkmatters Review: Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 (15)

Dir. Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“All the activity has led up to this…”

The best possible opening background to this film review has already been written by the awesome Chris Blohm of Little White Lies magazine – he explains: “When William Friedkin's horror classic The Exorcist was released upon an unsuspecting public in 1973, the Reverend Billy Graham declared that the actual celluloid on which the film had been printed was, in fact, possessed by a malignant, infernal force. Graham was nothing if not a great showman, and this provocative announcement only added to the general hullabaloo surrounding the film's release.

Another great showman, Steven Spielberg, did a little myth-making of his own when he saw an early version of Oren Peli's found-footage chiller Paranormal Activity. It was said that upon watching the film, Spielberg noticed a door to an empty bedroom had inexplicably locked. Sufficiently freaked out, he apparently wrapped the screener in a plastic bin bag and sent it back to Paramount quick sharp, convinced his copy was indeed harbouring some kind of spectral presence…”

So if William Friedkin's horror classic The Exorcist (perhaps regarded as the ‘daddy’ of all supernatural horror films), a mighty head-spinning, dread inducing masterpiece, could only muster two lacklustre sequels… What hope is there for PA4?

Ah, well, Paranormal Activity however is a modern day horror phenomenon, one that effectively energised the ‘found footage’ subgenre and is going strong into its fourth movie.

"who's that?"

However, if we’ve learnt anything about horror franchises, it’s that part four is often a weak effort – so can Paranormal Activity buck the trend or is the curse of the fourth movie about to strike again? The first film broke new ground with it’s intimate ‘the horror is right in your home’ gimmick, part two built on the mythos / still delivered on the scares and even part three upped the ante by showing why this Paranormal Activity is all kicking off.

But something has gone badly wrong., This entry feels weak, rushed and lacking in any real scares (other than the occasional ‘jump’ moment). It’s like the directing team of Joost and Shulman have been possessed by the malign spirits of some hackneyed, ‘straight to video’, directors… and unleashed on unwitting cinema goers to wreak supernatural disappointment.

"nothing spooky here..."

If you’re a Paranormal Activity fan, you need to seriously lower your expectations because whilst part four brings back many of the original components and characters, the creeping dread has gone AWOL along with the inventiveness.

The plot takes place five years after the events of the second film – and starts with a brief recap of how demon possessed Katie went on a murderous rampage killing her sister Kristi and disappeared with their baby, Hunter.

"ok so it's getting mildly freaky here..."

The action then switches to 2011 where young teen Alex (promising newcomer Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) start to notice strange things going on after a weird kid and his mum move in across the street. Might they be Katie and Hunter?

The level of ‘Paranormal Activity’, as usual for the series, begins moderately and escalates slowly, up until and crazy rushed last two minutes which raises more questions than it answers.

"flying without wings..."

Laptops and webcams form most of the surveillance footage this time round thanks to the teens video chatting etc. The new family are basically here to do nothing but wonder about the odd kid and then probably die while the plot stumbles along failing to move the brand into anything new or even interesting.

It would be tragic if the series ended on this damp squib after starting so strong, but unless the creators manage to pull off a feat of staggering supernatural resurrection with part 5 – all the activity has not led up to much.

"Paranormal cooking tips anyone?"

Read another version of this review over at Biggleswade Chronicle which I write for weekly...

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2 – Budget demons and lots of Zzzzzz

2 .5 – ooops... there goes the franchise if not careful

Awesomeness öö – Not enough 'activity'

Laughs öö – Couple of LOLs

Horror ööö – Some very brief moments

Spiritual Enlightenment – the power of Christ compels you to go 'meh'

Not as good as Paranormal Activity 3

"newton and pals go fairy"

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Good review Matt. I didn't hate it as much as everybody else did, but it is coming to a point now where this series needs to do something with itself, or it's most likely going to be dead by the 6th movie.