Spoilers Ahead… Seriously I like to avoid spoilers but this review has plenty. You’ve been warned.
The Paranormal Activity Franchise has been a part of this blog since day one. The original was one of the first movies I reviewed and it also happens to be the first movie I saw with my wife. Since then, I’ve seen every sequel in theaters with her and we’ve been frustrated by rude audiences that ruined the experience. I’ve written a lot about the importance of a good audience in films like Paranormal Activity. The franchise depends heavily on atmosphere. Part 2 & 3 were fantastic follow ups but it wasn’t the same because people wouldn’t shut up. Would Paranormal Activity 4 follow the same trend?
For Paranormal Activity 4, we decided to catch a 5:35 show. The theory was simple: Movie idiots see later movies when it’s ‘cool’ and their witty banter will be heard by the maximum amount of people. So we went to see the movie first and THEN went out to dinner. We also waited a week to see it to avoid the initial rush of idiots.
The plan worked! The theater was practically empty and we didn’t hear a sound throughout the entire movie. Finally, we were able to enjoy a Paranormal Activity movie in peace. (It only took 3 years) However, right before the movie began I was a little sad. A packed and interested audience is the reason why I loved the first experience. I suppose you can’t always get your way. I’d rather have an empty and quiet theater then risk sitting next to chatty people.
The stage was set. We had great seats and silent surroundings… Only…
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 WASN’T VERY GOOD
We can’t win! The movies we liked were ruined and when we finally get a quiet audience the movie doesn’t deliver!?
Paranormal Activity 4 almost felt like the filmmakers were stalling to drag out the franchise as much as possible. In fact, the first hour of this installment felt like they were stalling until the final ‘actually scary’ moments unfolded. These movies are all about the tense lead up to terrifying finales. PA4 definitely has frantic and memorable final moments but the scares leading up to them just didn’t work.
“Is there going to be somebody behind the fridge door THIS time? No? Okay that’s fine maybe Night #8 will scare me.”
WHERE IS TOBY!?
Each of the previous films added something unique to the mythology of Toby and his quest for a host. The first film established that he wasn’t a ghost. The second established that his goal was to take a little boy. The third established that Toby was summoned by Katie’s grandmother who is part of a cult of creepy women.
The fourth? Well… The fourth really doesn’t add anything. Katie returns and tries to help Toby possess Hunter once and for all. But non of that happens until the film’s creepy final moments. If they would have moved up the ending about 30 minutes and left room for more story, this had potential to be the best in the series. You can’t just rely on the same gimmicks and then end the movie without bringing anything new to the table.
Paranormal Activity 4 plays on what you expect to see but doesn’t deliver any surprises. Most of the suspense can be credited to our own imaginations because of scares we’ve all seen before. That fridge door keeps opening and we were all ready for something. Then the door closes and nothing happens. A knife flies away and we all assume it’s not going to end well once it reappears. Except nothing really happens when it does. The biggest ‘scare’ moments are mostly false alarms. And several are the cat’s fault.
What’s Toby’s plan if he does possess Hunter? The creepy women cult seems to be a well organized force. What’s that about? I’m not saying I want hidden cameras in their meetings but give us something. If you aren’t going to give us new scares then give us more story.
Who was Robbie? Why bother with the adoption twist? Also, is Toby able to possess women easier? What’s going on with Katie’s super strength? There is a clear set of rules when it comes to possessing Hunter but he’s possessed Katie multiple times. Is that why only women are allowed in the CWC? (Creepy Women Cult)
Are all these women in debt to Toby? Has he brought them all wealth in exchange for first born sons? What are they gaining from this? Better still… Why isn’t anyone looking for Katie and Hunter from previous films?
THE ENDING NEARLY SAVED THE DAY
… Nearly. Remember the first time Toby dragged Katie out of her bed? That was awesome…
The first movie didn’t lead to much but it delivered the scares and little details like Toby’s feet.
The final 10 minutes of PA4 definitely raise the tension but it happens too late and leads to nothing.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5?
I love this series but here’s what scares me the most. If Toby won. Is that the end of the invisible haunted madness we all know and love? With all those women, it can’t be his first victory right?
The point is, none of these movies are heavy on story but each of them added something to hold my interest until the next release. I didn’t get that feeling with 4.
But all of that is somewhat forgivable if the movie delivers the scares. Let’s face it, this franchise will never be around on Oscar night but that’s not the point. We saw Paranormal Activity to be scared and it worked. The second and third films delivered the scares and a little story to enhance the experience.
Unfortunately, Paranormal Activity 4 delivered neither with the exception of the final minutes. Paranormal Activity 5 needs to raise the bar when it comes to Toby and the CWC. I don’t want answers to all my questions. The mystery surrounding these events must be preserved but at least provide an answer one or two! The next film will most likely be better than 4. I’m not saying it’ll be the best in the series but people pay attention. The reviews aren’t positive and the box office reflects that.
With my luck, it’ll probably be great and we’ll be sitting next to idiots once again.
The search for the Paranormal Activity Experience continues…