Dianna Agron, Alisha Boe, Brady Allen, Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston
Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Oren Peli, Chad Feehan, Christopher B. Landon, Christopher Landon, Zack Estrin
Katie (Katie Featherston) is back.
So is Paranormal Activity, no particular surprise given that these films continue to be relatively low cost to produce and popular at the box-office. While the Paranormal Activity films are by no means brilliant cinema, they are good enough for what they are and my gut tells me that this contemporary fourth edition will have no problem knocking out Alex Cross at the box-office this opening weekend.
This film is set in 2011 with Alice (Kathryn Newton), who lives with her parents and younger brother, front and center and hanging out with her rather horny boyfriend, Ben (Matt Shively), quite a bit. They all spy a young boy, Robbie (Brady Allen), walking around the neighborhood and eventually figure out that he lives in a house with his mother (Featherston). When mom is semi-mysteriously whisked off to a hospital, Robbie ends up staying with Alice and her family.
As you can probably guess, things get a bit creepy.
In other words, this is Paranormal Activity 4.
The film is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who started off so promisingly with Catfish but have now been responsible for films three and four in this series. The entire marketing for Paranormal Activity 4 centers around the idea that films 1, 2 and 3 have all somehow led up to this film.
There's nothing here.
They've led up to nothing? This has all been a freakin' hoax?
There's a terrific, or kind of terrific, visual effect involving a Kinect that would probably lead to a massive increase in sales if anybody actually bought that it could be done by anyone with the Kinect. That's highly unlikely, but it's still visually impressive and remarkably stylish. On some really weird fundamental level, Paranormal Activity 4 is the most purely entertaining of the four films though, in all honesty, it's for all the wrong reasons - the film is funnier and lighter than its predecessors. Adversely, the film is quite a bit less scary, other than the familiar "jump" scares that have always been popular in this series.
The cast is uniformly game for the entire project, and Matt Shively is likely the best of the bunch with a great sense of timing, both dramatic and comedic. Featherston is also fairly impressive, especially when she's not doing the faux scares but in her more subtle moments.
In short, everything's familiar in Paranormal Activity 4 but if you've been a huge fan of the first three films then there's likely nothing in Paranormal Activity 4 that will scare you away.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic