Friday, October 19, 2012

The Phantom Menace: Even with Its Fourth Entry “Paranormal Activity 4” Manages Some Decent Scares

Nowadays, one really has to appreciate the “Paranormal Activity” films. Critics and audiences complained (myself included) ad nauseam about the banality that the “Saw” franchise became year after year. With those films all they did was flash blood and guts at the audience and nothing more. With this spooky “found footage” franchise, the “Activity” films are produced on a minimal budget with some truly interesting effects and frights. At number four by sheer definition the film isn’t nearly as frightening as the first incarnation. But even if the premise is overstaying its welcome, these films could actually be a lot worse. I love that filmmakers can take a miniscule budget, this time about $5 million (the first cost only $15,000) and do almost anything with it. It’s a franchise that requires innovation and ingenuity and just enough differences from year to year to prevent the whole thing from getting too stale. And audiences come in droves – because they want to be scared and not grossed out. You kind of have to respect that.

We’re introduced to a new family in Nevada. It’s been five years since the events of Part 2 (Part 3 was a prequel set in the 80s if you recall) and the possessed Katie (Katie Featherston) and her little nephew Hunter have never been located. I can imagine that they’re the new neighbors that now live across the street from teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family – her dad, stepmom, and younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). Some kind of incident across the street leaves new little neighbor Robbie (Brady Allen) without parental supervision, so he stays with Alex’s family until his mom recuperates. Robbie would even make Damien from “The Omen” a little freaked out.

Alex finds little Robbie slightly bizarre; the way he behaves for a young child is rather strange. He introduces himself by extending his arm for a handshake to little Wyatt – something no seven year old really would do. Upon Robbie’s arrival strange things begin to occur so Alex and her boyfriend Ben (Ben Shively) set up webcams around the house – including the Xbox 360’s Kinect which displays millions of glowing green dots when viewed through a night vision camera producing a rather eerie effect (put to good use I might add). Remember this series is a “found footage” horror film so there are plenty shots of people sleeping or going about their boring business and having conversations we don’t really care about or believe anyone in their right mind would actually film but that’s beside the point.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (who also did part 3) waste no time getting the chills on. Some complained, particularly in part 2 that the paranormal activity took too long to get going. Here some freaky stuff happens almost too soon. I honestly thought the climax was approaching with all the intense goings on that I was surprised to find there was an entire third act to go. Alex is a rather resourceful young woman – and the actress gives a decent lead performance. All the actors really need to do in these films is make you believe that they’re ordinary people in an extraordinary situation – and I bought it. Although with all the ridiculous things happening – like chandeliers falling, and weird ghostly images caught onscreen, and knives vanishing and reappearing out of thin air - there’s no way these people wouldn’t leave that house in a heartbeat.

“Paranormal Activity 4” unfortunately doesn’t quite add much to the mythology that was delved so deeply in the third film, but it still manages to create a decent sense of dread and a few intense and creepy moments – particularly a harrowing escape from an exhaust filled garage and a nice little nod to “The Shining.” This is a movie that offers what most people expect from these movies and nothing more really. And it leaves some lingering questions that will most likely be answered in yet another sequel – which may be the least surprising shock of all.  GRADE: B-


Wenhao Guo said...

replica watches,
ugg uk,
michael kors factory outlet,
canada goose outlet,
tory burch outlet,
air jordan 4,
tory burch shoes,
cheap snapbacks,
air max 90,
timberland boots,
rolex watches,
polo ralph lauren,
mcm outlet,
michael kors handbags,
cheap ugg boots,
louis vuitton outlet,
hermes birkin,
kobe shoes,
michael kors outlet,
coach handbags,
mulberry outlet,
air jordan 11,

方松腾 said...

toms shoes
christian louboutin uk
michael kors online
swarovski outlet
swarovski jewelry
michael kors outlet online
fitflop clearance
timberland boots
nike roshe
hermes outlet
lacoste shirts
beats by dre
jordan shoes
michael kors outlet
nba jerseys
cheap jordan shoes
true religion jeans outlet
michael kors outlet
swarovski crystal
adidas wings shoes
cheap jordans
toms outlet
ralph lauren polo
louis vuitton outlet
longchamp outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
ray ban outlet
adidas outlet
mulberry outlet
tiffany and co said...

louis vuitton outlet stores
louis vuitton handbags
tod's shoes
michael kors handbags
uggs uk
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet
rolex submariner
ghd hair straighteners
christian louboutin outlet
nike outlet
ugg boots
ugg outlet
christian louboutin sale
toms shoes
coach outlet store online
ugg boots sale
ugg sale
coach outlet store online clearances
jordan 11 concord
adidas outlet
polo ralph lauren
cheap jordans
cheap jordan shoes
hollister shirts
celine bags
fitflops shoes
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet online

chenlina said...

ugg boots
ugg boots uk
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors canada
coach outlet store online
jordan retro
louis vuitton outlet
asics running shoes
ugg italia
ugg outlet

dada24 Xu said...

converse all star
salvatore ferragamo shoes
salvatore ferragamo shoes
supra shoes
valentino shoes
jimmy choo shoes
levis outlet
levi's jeans
bottega veneta outlet
vans store

姚嘉 said...

new york knicks jersey
green bay packers jerseys
golden state warriors jerseys
michael kors outlet
baltimore ravens jerseys
san francisco 49ers jerseys
adidas nmd
nike air force 1
michael kors handbags
michael kors handbags

ngocanhng said...

Your blog posts are more interesting and impressive. I think there are many people like and visit it regularly, including me.I actually appreciate your own position and I will be sure to come back here.

Yaro Gabriel said...

coach outlet online
ralph lauren uk
coach outlet
ugg boots
ralph lauren polo
canadian goose
true religion jeans outlet
coach outlet
hogan shoes
air max 90