Paranormal Activity 4


Katie Featherston as Katie
Kathryn Newton as Alex
Matt Shively as Ben
Brady Allen as Robbie
Alisha Boe as Tara
Tommy Miranda as Jackson

A normal family in a suburban area is mystified by the odd happenings that start occurring after they take in a strange boy named Robbie who lives across the street. The family’s teen daughter Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) try to capture those occurrences using a jury-rigged laptop webcam system.

Halloween is just a few weeks away which means it’s time for another inexpensive way to make money by releasing a low-budget movie with a familiar name that casual horror fans will flock to for equally cheap scares and thrills. For that crowd, it really doesn’t matter what we say about the fourth installment of the “Paranormal Activity” movie, which is probably about as review-proof as those “Twilight” movies, but unfortunately, it’s the first installment that outright fails.

When “Catfish” directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost were brought on for the third movie, a prequel that flashed back to the ’80s, it seemed like an odd choice but they really stepped things up with some original visual ideas while building on the mythos of the demon that’s been plaguing Katie Featherston and those around her for two previous movies.

This time, we’re back following the story where it left off with the 2010 sequel so we can find out what happened with Katie and her nephew Hunter after he was abducted at the end of “Paranormal Activity 2.” Like with that movie, this one involves a fully functional family, but mainly focuses on teenage daughter Alex (Kathryn Newton), her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively), younger brother Wyatt and the strange kid from across the street named Robbie (Brady Allen). When the latter’s unseen mother is taken to the hospital for a few days, Robbie is taken in by the family and that’s when all the strange things start happening.

One reason why the series has worked so well so far is the naturalism created by having unknown and non-actors, because you really feel as if you’re watching real people being tormented by pranking spirits, demons or whatever. In this case, Kathryn Newton does a decent job anchoring this one as the teen protagonist, but it’s usually Matt Shively who steals scenes with his sense of humor. They’re both creeped out by Robbie and the fact he keeps appearing in odd places and times, so they decide to use the technology at hand to document Robbie’s mysterious behavior. With that in mind, the visual gimmick is that the film is shot using videophones or laptop webcams, or at least that’s the pretense. This means that at least part of the movie is shot using lots of shaky handheld camera or awkward use of Skype until all the laptops in the house are jury-rigged to keep an eye on things similar to the security cams in the second movie.

You can read the rest of our review over on