By: Matthew DoughertyStaff Writer
The Paranormal Activity franchise has had something unique going for it the last two years: good sequels. While this fourth installment isn’t necessarily bad, it isn’t good either, and it breaks the streak. Paranormal Activity 4 is still scary, but the way in which it is scary feels cheap and less intelligent than the last three movies. There are more fake-out scares (family members being behind others, pets showing up randomly) than ever. That’s well and good in a different horror film, but the original Paranormal Activity was so revolutionary and terrifying because it built real tension. This one falls into traditional horror cliches. That being said, there were a number of moments where I was holding my sweatshirt over my eyes. The climax is well done, as it was in the last three. There are a few good camera tricks, particularly with the use of video chats. Another nice touch was the few references to other horror films. You can’t help but chuckle at the kid riding the tricycle throughout the house a la The Shining. But despite these things, this movie is definitely a new low for the franchise. The first 20 or so minutes feel like an ad for Xbox Kinect (if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what I am referring to). There is really nothing building, plot or tension-wise, the whole film. This series has a fairly rich mythology, and this film only adds to it in the last 30 seconds. It is the most pointless film in the franchise. But I guess all that matters is if I will sit down and watch Paranormal Activity 5 in a year. The answer is yes because this film still scared me, and I know what these storytellers are capable of. Hopefully this will just be the misstep of the series.