Every time I watch a "Paranormal Activity" movie, I walk away from it wondering why I put myself through the experience. I loathe them more than anything in cinematic history. I vainly hope that the next one couldn't be any worse than the one before it. However, they continue to disappoint me with "Paranormal Activity 4."
A family takes in a little boy when his mother is hospitalized. Unexplainable things begin happening shortly after his arrival. Is it all coincidence or did the child bring something supernatural into the house with him?
Writer Christopher Landon and directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman really have nothing new to add to what has come before in the "Paranormal Activity" franchise. Sure, we get some new ways to incorporate found footage into the movie like computer and iPhone cameras as well as Kinect sensors. The visuals and outcome are all the same, though. We get shadows, bumps, flickering lights, books falling, utensils floating, and a laundry list of other hoaxes and illusions too long to list.
I'm not going to say there aren't some genuinely scary moments. They're few and far between. Viewing "Paranormal Activity 4" is the equivalent of watching paint dry for 90 minutes with a bubble rising and popping every 10 minutes.
I have the formula for the films figured out as well. There's a low rumbling every time something "scary" is about to happen. Unfortunately, nothing every REALLY happens until the last 10 minutes. All we get before that are some loud bumps and a few elaborate but mostly elementary parlor tricks.
Creator Oren Peli does deserve a standing ovation for tricking so many people (not me; I see them for free, thankfully) into wasting money on these films year after year. "Paranormal Activity 4" alone brought in $140,706,358 off of a budget of $5 million. The entire series so far has cost $13,015,000 to make and grossed $714,788,650. Now that's just smart business!
Is there any way to really gauge the video or audio quality of "Paranormal Activity 4?" The movie is made up of video, computer camera, and night-vision footage of different qualities. We are given zero cinematography to praise or damn here. The 5.1 surround sound offers nothing to viewers except when there's a loud bang or low rumble from somewhere in the room. There's no musical score or real dialogue to speak of.
The "Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated Edition" features nine minutes of extra footage not seen in theaters. I can't even begin to imagine what the additional scenes could be. There's no way I was sitting through both versions to find out.
The only bonus material included on the Blu-ray version is a 28-minute featurette entitled "The Recovered Files." It's basically deleted scenes in the form of additional "found footage." Congratulations are in order to anyone who can sit through it.
Something else that eludes me is why they rate these movies R. There's nothing here that isn't seen in a PG-13 horror film or watered-down teen sex romp. All they'd have to do to make even more money at the box office is cut out three or four expletives. They'd then have a teen-friendly horror movie tailor-made for kiddies to enjoy.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The "Paranormal Activity" films are made for people who don't regularly watch horror movies. Anyone who tells you any differently is lying. "Paranormal Activity 4" is another lackluster entry in a franchise which will continue to be a successful Halloween novelty until they stop making money. Therefore, I see no end in sight.