Movie Review: "Paranormal Activity 4" — 5 out of 5 stars
Tue, 16 Oct 2012 21:27:32
Paranormal Activity is the rare franchise that manages to get better with each installment.
Visionary writer and director Oren Peli laid the groundwork for a deep mythos of epic proportions with the first film in 2009, and the series has made good on that initial promise by continually blossoming into a more evil and enthralling beast with every successive installment. Keeping up with tradition, Paranormal Activity 4 is the best Paranormal Activity film yet. It's scary as hell, and it's the ending you've been waiting for. That said, this new horror classic still doesn't give everything away, and that's why it's so effective and staggeringly terrifying.
Let's delve into specifics shall we?
This time, the story picks up in Henderson, NV after the events in Carlsbad, CA of Paranormal Activity 2. The Nelson family takes in a strange boy Robbie—an utterly terrifying Brady Allen—after his "mom" Katie Featherston [that Katie, yup!] is rushed to the hospital. Robbie takes his time burrowing into the fabric of the family and befriending the young Wyatt who's also his age, but there are dead ringers that something's not right, even beyond his socks and sandals faux pas. He's got a one-hundred-year-old fork and stuffed animal, and he gets up in the middle of the night and wanders the house. Daughter Alex, an equally strong Kathryn Newton, knows that there's something wrong and she and her beau Ben setup cameras everywhere on the house's many laptops. Then, everything begins cracking and the Activity takes over again.
However, Paranormal Activity 3 and Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman tread new territory again, making this a game-changer. There's a particular creepy bit using the X-Box 360's infrared Kinect feature that hasn't been done yet. The audience gets a rather jarring glimpse at the demon Toby as an avatar on the screen too—but we still don't see him. It's a brilliant move. Then, there's the flying knife. Also, the coven slips back into focus in an artful and quite horrifying manner.
Allen is a center for many of the scares. This kid has a big future ahead. Hearing him say, "He doesn't like you watching us" to Alex proves chilling, especially knowing Toby's history. Seeing him paint Satanic symbols on Wyatt too is downright disturbing, yet still subtle.
Joost and Schulman nod to some heavy metal favorites too, clothing Ben exclusively in Metallica merchandise, blaring Rob Zombie's "Dragula" from Hellbilly Deluxe during the "dance party", and throwing in a Beware of Darkness shirt for good measure. It all keeps up that rhythm.
Ultimately, Paranormal Activity 4 ups the ante again by maintaining everything fans love about the series and flipping the script just enough to keep everything fresh. We've been possessed for four years now by this film, and its grip only gets stronger with each passing year.
Will you be seeing Paranormal Activity 4 on Friday October 19? What's your favorite Paranormal Activity film so far?
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