by Matt Gates
Despite a much larger budget, Paranormal Activity 4 relies on the same tactics as the original indie film: moving objects, possessed individuals and things that go bump in the night. However, the change of protagonists allows for new twists on these old tricks.
PA4 takes place several years after the first two films. Teenage Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) take in their strange neighbor, Robbie (Brady Allen) after his mother is hospitalized.
As anyone who has followed the series thus far would expect the characters record a sequence of unoriginal but still frightening paranormal events on home video.
Unlike in the other movies, these protagonists employ infrared and web chat technology to investigate the activity, creating the opportunity for new scares.
Because the main character is closer in age to the target audience, viewers are more concerned about Alex’s safety than they were about the safety of the characters in the other movies.
Moreover, she and her boyfriend Ben (Matthew Shively) are more committed to investigating paranormal events than any of the previous films’ duos.
Another upside of this movie is the return of the familiar and ominous demon-possessed Katie (Katie Featherson) from PA2.
The filmmakers also build suspense by introducing a plot twist regarding Wyatt and Robbie, intriguing viewers but also leaving plot holes.
By the ending, viewers are left to wonder not only about the answers to the questions posed by all four films, but also about whether the filmmakers are holding back information to keep the series going or are just making it up as they go along.
If you need answers and originality to enjoy a horror film, this is not the movie (or series) for you. Although having seen the first three films would allow viewers to understand the full backstory, this is not necessary to enjoy PA4.
A post-credit scene suggests that next October the inevitable Paranormal Activity 5 might give us more of the same scares and a few more answers. And maybe some thrills that do not emerge from behind a closet door or under the bed.