Avoid this activity
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Film: Paranormal Activity 4
Release Date: Oct. 18
Studio: Paramount Pictures
There is one incredibly alluring shot in Paranormal Activity 4: the colossal image of the Paramount Pictures mountain logo as a fleet of shooting stars scurries across the night sky to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary.
Those stars are about as bright as this film gets – both in lighting design, originality and intelligence.
Calling Paranormal Activity 4 terrible is an insult to the eight-letter word; pronouncing its title is abusing the English language. This is an empty shell of a horror film that lacks distinctive characters, a tangible storyline, suspense, effort, artistic vision and aptness of thought.
As the fourth entry of a brutally drained series, PA4 not only beats a dead horse but axes off the head. The original PA was a breakthrough for the horror genre, refurbishing what The Blair Watch Project began a decade prior. Most importantly, the first film was an original concept and therefore frighteningly effective on its audience.
But that train has long since derailed.
Alex Nelson (Kathryn Newton, Bad Teacher) is the central victim this time around. As mandated in the PA series, Alex carries her camcorder everywhere in hopes to capture proof that an entity lives in her house. Because of this, there are many vacant shots with nothing much happening, except walking around the house. Half of the runtime could be cropped out and the movie would still have the same result. There are countless scenes that give Alex no reason for using the camcorder, except to convenience the plot.
Ben (Matt Shively, True Jackson, VP) is Alex’s conventional Hollywood boyfriend who resents the possibility of an entity; he would rather persuade Alex to flash him on a webcam. He obviously isn’t getting any; just disregard these two are about 13 years old and watching them flirt is abominating.
And then there are Alex’s parents – who probably go on record as the most useless characters in the history of movies. May the great lords of cinema forgive the performers playing these pitiful parents who argue instead of responding to their daughter, even moments after a chandelier nearly lands on her. An empty sub-plot of the arguing parents adds zero dramatic effect and only prolongs the audience’s suffering.
There are some other characters involved, but their contributions to the film are few. Evil henchmen in James Bond movies have made greater impacts in a film than these do.PA4 might have even benefited by having one of these henchmen in the lead role – at least the audience could laugh instead of restraining themselves to an emotionless state while watching this garbage.
Hollywood has a bizarre fetish for milking overrun horror franchises – Friday the 13th tacked on 11 sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween each added eight, Saw added six and Alien added four. Paramount is now the proud new owner of a wasteful franchise. But nobody cares because teenagers will always pay to watch other teenagers become disembodied by natural forces.
If you can avoid watching Paranormal Activity 4, do so. Even die-hard fans of the franchise should at least do the honorable thing and illegally download it. Or go see Sinister, which is still playing at Regal and is one of the best horror movies of the year.