There is a consistent Hollywood fact that horror movie franchises usually start to dwindle immediately after the first sequel and just plummet with each proceeding one.
What’s shocking is the “Paranormal Activity” franchise appeared to be going that way until its third showed with creative minds and a sense of setting the franchise could last forever. The fourth kept that idea in mind but ultimately showed signs of wear in trying to create something new.
This time around the activity centered on a family, the young girl as the protagonist, and a strange little boy (previously seen as a baby in the second installment, eventually taken away by a recurring character, Katie) who moved in across the street. Soon weird things began to happen after the family was forced to babysit the child.
The first problem emerged thanks to the young girl, Alex. In the previous installments, the need for the camera was established early. In the first it was immediately determined the camera was used for ghost hunting; in the second, the main use of the cameras was family security cameras after a break-in; and in the third, the camera was used because the lead character was a wedding videographer, so his creativity and desire to film was part of his life.
Here, she had no reason to run around with a camera for the first 15 minutes and even the time thereafter. With the style of these movies a hand-held camera was needed, even if logic or reason didn’t dictate it.
But like “Paranormal Activity Three” the directors found a way to utilize modern technology like Skype and Xbox Kinect sensors to find interesting ways to project fear. Both methods offered inventive ways to see what the characters could not and proved it may just take a creative spirit to keep audiences guessing and the franchise steaming ahead.
All of that was fine and admirable, but it would have been better if so many weren’t wasted moments. Too many times did nights go inactive or fail to go beyond mediocre chills. Lots of opening doors with nothing in the hallways and though the new, incorporated methods were clever, they also fell victim of underutilization.
However, that was not to say the movie was without its moments. There were also moments of lingering tension that the series has become renown for as well as some shocking all-out terror, especially its ending, which concluded on a note not done in the previous films and was appropriately surprising and left the audience screaming and clapping.
My thoughts about this movie throughout were it was a combination of the last two movies. The second used the multiple camera style but had little to no payoffs in the horror department, whereas, the third rejuvenated the franchise with plenty of tension, thanks to new camera devices and more shock payoff. The fourth in the series had the newer technology, some good shock and suspense but also plenty of empty moments that left too much breathing room.
It was definitely better than some other critics may say as it still showed signs that the franchise will always have some life in it.
What I’m curious about is the future Xbox Kinect sales, as it will never be played the same way again.