Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

One of the primary faults behind “Paranormal Activity 4” is that it makes promises it just can’t keep. It swears new scares with the use of the kinect and light beams and doesn’t quite fulfill the potential for the plot device. It introduces a new protagonist, but never fully develops her. And most importantly it explains that it has all led up to this, but there really isn’t a huge development in the storyline. I’m still not sure why what happened happens at all, and what they’re leading in to, but according to Dreamworks, we have two more films left in this series, and more films with a Latin spin off that will likely continue the mythos well in to 2019. If possible.

“Paranormal Activity 4” is basically the sequel paired with the themes of “The Omen 2.” Yet again we explore the life of a very voyeuristic middle class suburban family and most of the story is seen through the eyes of the very fetching Alex and her best friend Ben. Ben is of course dreamy eyed for the lovely Alex and spends most of the film looking for any excuse to be around her, including investigating the odd goings on in her new house. The basic build up is all about the children and the secrets they hold. When the big revelation arrives in the middle of the film, I gather much of the audience will respond to “Ohhhh… what?” Not that the film itself it all that horrible, but in the way of hauntings and supernatural occurrences, there isn’t that much that will leave viewers gasping and reeling in their seats.

The story feels primarily like one segment of a larger planned narrative, and sadly it never actually opens up for us. Just one things finally start to unravel, the credits begin rolling and we’re left with a lot of confusion and questions that won’t be answered until Paramount trots out the fifth installment of the ghost series. The main aspect of the story that left me scratching my head is: how did it happen? There seemed to be such a stern resolve and mission at the finale of “Paranormal Activity 2” and suddenly, it isn’t? Where did it all fall apart? I was never quite sure.

You’ll see what I mean when you watch the film, but it all felt as if the writers were desperately trying to tie this film with the first three and created the somewhat far fetched plot twist mid-way without much thought as to the why’s and how’s of the twist. When the screws turn in the finale, there’s a good sense of immediate danger, but not a lot of clarity as to what the ultimate plan is. Is the demon creating an army of demon babes? Is the busty Katie leading the charge? Are they going to take over the world one suburb at a time? Is the demon breeding? What is the ultimate goal for everyone involved? With the viral marketing for entry five already under way, we’ll soon discover more about the master plan.

As a fourth installment “Paranormal Activity 4” is a solid film with Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively keeping the film from sinking with their charisma and neat chemistry. I just wish we had more answers and specifics, in the end. The writers seem to be under pressure to keep the lines connected for each film, thus “Paranormal Activity 4” creates a reason for setting down on a new family with a mid-film twist that is far-fetched, and reaches for dramatic strength. Nevertheless, it’s a strong and creepy expansion of the mythos, but one that could have used a lot more work in the story department.

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