Review - Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012), R, 88 minutes - I was never really into the Paranormal Activity movies until my fiance had me watch them in preparation for last year's Paranormal Activity 3.  It turned out that they were actually right up my alley.  Suspenseful, creepy, good jumpy scares hear and there, but they were not slasher filled.  I even really enjoyed the continuity that they created by making the second and third movies prequels that made the events from the first film not so random.  So my fiance and I were very much looking forward to Paranormal Activity 4, which skips ahead and takes place 5 years after the events of the first two films.

This time around the story focuses on a new family that lives across the street from Katie (Katie Featherston) and her son Robbie (Brady Allen), the characters that carry over from the previous installments.  Most of the film follows Alex (Kathryn Newton), the teenage daughter of the family across the street.  Her family takes Robbie in after Katie is hospitalized after an unexplained situation at the beginning of the film.  Apparently Robbie doesn't have any other family or anywhere to go.  Shortly after Robbie arrives, strange things begin happening at the new family's house (we are never given a last name, so referring to them is already getting sort of awkward).  Anyway, Robbie gets all buddy buddy with Alex's younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovecamp).  Wyatt begins acting strangely with the continued weird happenings around the house.  As this is all beginning, Alex gets a little suspicious of Robbie, and along with the help of her friend Ben (Matt Shively), sets the webcams in all of the computers in the house to record at all times (providing the found footage the Paranormal Activity movies are based on).  I actually liked this minor twist on the effect, it shifted the concept forward as you very rarely see people running around with camcorders these days with all of the multi-purpose technology we have.  She and Ben witness the odd happenings from the webcam recordings and she tries to tell her parents, but they dismiss her allegations despite experiencing minor events themselves.

Overall, I think that Paranormal Activity 4 was the weakest of the franchise.  It still provided a few creepy moments and a couple of shock moments that make you jump, but continuity-wise was actually kind of confusing (I will discuss this more in the spoiler section below).  The ending, while providing the possibility for another film, was quite abrupt and not very satisfying.  If you are a fan of the franchise, I'd say that it is worth giving a shot at some point.  Maybe as a rental considering the price of admission at most theaters nowadays.  If you haven't seen the others, the continuity confusion would be much less glaring, but you'd probably be better served starting at the beginning of the franchise as the first is still the best in my opinion.











*****SPOILERS*****

- Ok, so the movie opens by replaying the events from the end of Paranormal Activity 2, in which a possessed Katie kills her sister and brother in law and abducts her nephew Hunter.  It then states that Katie and Hunter disappeared at that time and that their whereabouts are unknown.  Skip ahead 5 years to the events of this movie.  I thought it to be fairly obvious that the strange boy named Robbie and posing as Katie's son, was actually her nephew Hunter.  So I was beyond confused when Robbie starts planting the seeds that lead to Wyatt believing that his real name is Hunter (it turns out that Wyatt is adopted).  So...if Robbie is actually Hunter, why are he and Katie telling Wyatt that he is Hunter?  And if Robbie isn't Hunter, then who the hell is he and why is he helping Katie?  How did Katie and Hunter get separated to where he would be adopted by another family?   I thought that we learned in Paranormal Activity 3 that the demon that was haunting the family was after the first born son, which would be Hunter.  Are they trying to shift the demon's haunting to another family?  I didn't have a chance to re-watch all three previous films before seeing 4, so maybe I'm just not remembering something.  Can any of you explain this to me?  Maybe they were purposely presenting more questions to be answered in future installments.  Either way, I was and am confused and it is putting a damper on my enjoyment of this flick!

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