The latest Paranormal Activity, No. 4, is unlikely to attract new viewers to this horror series; by now you’ve signed on or not. But there are reasons these movies persist, mainly a consistency and a determination not to overreach; understatement and adherence to form carry these films. Paranormal Activity 4 will please the fans, and that should sustain this low-budget, highly profitable franchise.
In a surprising — and refreshing — Paranormal first, the focus in No. 4 is a teenager. Alex (Kathryn Newton, wonderful), the heroine, hangs out with her friend Ben (Matt Shively, also delightful) or talks to him via Skype when she’s not dealing with her bickering parents and young adopted brother, Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp).
Then there’s the solemn, brooding Robbie (Brady Allen), the boy next door, adopted by Alex’s family after his mother, Katie (Katie Featherston, the series’s mainstay), became sick. Ever since he moved in, chandeliers and kitchen knives just haven’t been able to stay still. And something’s happening with the living room Xbox.
Expect the customary surveillance cameras throughout a suburban home; jump cuts; bodies and faces pressed oppressively close to the lens; de rigueur dark hallways, closet doors and distant noises. But the mood is often playful, with teases and fake-outs that are sometimes humorous and usually right before shocks. Violence is rare, quick and devoid of lingering close-ups.
Can we expect a No. 5? Stick around after the closing credits.
Paranormal activity 4 (a)
Director: Henry Joost
and Ariel Schulman
Cast: Katie Featherston,
Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively,
Running time: 95 minutes