The Paranormal Activity series continues with this fourth installment, moving the meta narrative forward without providing any real closure. Long periods of boredom are punctuated with cheap scares and some questionable pedophilic overtones.
This is the story of a rich white family in suburban California suddenly beset by paranormal experiences when a strange boy and his single mother move in across the street. A contrivance is found so that the teenaged girl can record every moment in the house, though she never bothers to check the tape, and the movie is off and…well, not running. Plodding. The movie is off and plodding.
The performances are serviceable, including from the captivating young Kathryn Newton, who dazzled in Bad Teacher and TV’s Gary Unmarried and projects and intelligence beyond her years. Mostly the characters spend time moping or being afraid of bumps in the night.
I liken the scares in Paranormal Activity 4 to a bad magician: You know what tricks are coming and they’re performed without much surprise or flourish. The filmmakers keep the movie on a formulaic path, never deviating beyond a few nods to previous films in the series.
Trying and boring, Paranormal Activity 4 is a perfunctory follow-up in the series. Fans will be happy, newcomers will be lost. Movie fanatics are going to hate this movie.
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