Halloween Horror Movie Month: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Has anybody in this series ever taken into account that maybe this demon just doesn’t want it’s picture taken?

It has been five years since the strange disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and now we focus our attention to a nice, suburban family that just so happens to live right across the street from these two weirdos. Yay! It’s time to break-in the newbies.

If you have been following my site ever since the heydays of 2009, you should know that I’am a big Paranormal Activity fan. When I went to see the first installment, it went down as one of my favorite movie-theater viewings of all-time and still ranks there to this day because that movie freaked me the fuck out with what it did. Then, the second one came around and that was pretty freaky as well, if a bit uneventful. And then, that third one came around last year and totally surprised me by how everything was cranked up to 11 on the scare-o-meter and never went down. Now, finally, we have the fourth installment and needless to say, it doesn’t feel like Halloween without one of these movies. Sadly, that’s the same thing people were all saying about the Saw franchise as well. Yup, it’s going there.

The fact that PA brought Catfish directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost for last year’s fright-fest, really made me curious as to what these guys had to offer and bring to the table and thankfully, they shocked us all by giving us some neat-tricks and inventive scares that we thought we’d never see in a horror movie, especially one that’s on it’s third-installment already. Here, the guys return and still do a nice job at scaring us but I don’t know, something really feels like it’s missing. One of the main reasons why this series worked in the first-place, and why the 3rd one did as well was because of how these guys allowed there to be some neat, visual-tricks that had us guessing just how the hell they pulled that off.

When somebody would go flying at the screen at a 100 mph, you would wonder how their necks didn’t really get broken; when everything in the kitchen would be floating in mid-air, you wondered just how the hell that even came-about and everything was able to just stay there; and whenever somebody was able to flat in the air, without there looking like there was a bunch of cable-wires actually holding them up, you’d get it in your mind that it looks incredibly hard to pull-off and required a crap-ton of skill. In this movie, all of those wonders and questions seem to go right down the drain as the film constantly falls back-on such tricks like a chair moving, or a cover being taken off of somebody, or a door creaking open. This shit is still a little freaky just because of the tension involved, but when you get right down to it, there’s nothing new or original we haven’t seen before.

That’s probably one of my biggest problems with this flick here is that I never felt like any of the scares really got me and made me feel like I was in a dangerous place throughout the whole movie. Maybe you can blame that on the whole movie series itself as we all know when a person is going to pop in front of the camera for a sneaky appearance, or whenever a loud noise is going to go “bam!” right in front of the screen, so all of those elements of surprise sort of get lost in the shuffle. Did I just jump at the scares? Of course I did, but you probably would too, if you’re just staring at a screen for a total of 30 seconds waiting for something crazy to happen and eventually does, much to your surprise.

Another element of this movie that didn’t really come as a surprise to me was the dumb-assed characters, that are sadly, well-performed by everybody involved. I don’t know where and I don’t know how, but I have seen the girl here who plays the teen protagonist (Kathryn Newton), and she actually took me off-guard by how good she is. Granted, she’s a little too familiar and good-looking to be taken seriously as a real, angsty teen going through this whole paranormal problem, but she has a lot of charm to her and feels like the type of girl you want to live, when it’s all said and done. However, all of her scenes get stolen by her boy-toy, played by Matt Shively, and just adds so much fun and humor to every scene that he’s in, that I never wanted to see the guy go. These two characters aren’t as stupid as you would expect them to be, but I can’t say that about the parents who are pretty much your typical, disapproving parents that don’t believe in any of this crazy shit, no matter how crazy it actually gets. Also, that mom deserved all of the shit got because she was the dumb-ass who lets the kid stay in the house with them and gives the comme-ci, comme-ca reason as to, “Well, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go so why not?” What the fuck, mom!??! Next time I’m stranded, I’m going right to her house and making myself a sandwich.

When it comes right down to it, even though this installment isn’t the best out of the whole series, it’s still as much fun as you’d expect it to be. Yeah, the scares are obvious and border-line predictable by now, but they’re still fun to be apart of, especially when you have a crazy crowd like the one I’ve been in for the past 4 years when I go to see these movies. Everybody’s hootin’, hollerin’, and jumpin’ all over the place that it’s almost torture to yourself to hide a smile or chuckle because you’ll be having that much fun with this movie. Also, if you doubt me, just you wait until those last 5 minutes where everything comes full-circle and all hell breaks loose, like we always love from this series. Yeah yeah yeah!

Consensus: Though it’s definitely the most unoriginal and blandest entry of the whole series, PA 4 still has fun with itself in terms of scares, chills, and overall fun atmosphere that never ceases to stop me from having a good olde time. PA 5? I think so. Let’s just hope they try some new, cool stuff this time around.



  1. Interesting review, Dan. I watched the first one for the first time a few days back and wasn’t impressed but I’m glad that you were still able to enjoy the fourth one as a fan of the series.

  2. Solid review! I have to say I’m not the biggest PA fan. I kinda liked the first movie, but after the second I was already burnt out. I dunno, maybe I’ll give 3 & 4 a shot.

  3. I think Paranormal Activity films are subject to the law of diminishing returns, that is with each subsequent film, it becomes less enjoyable. I loved the first, enjoyed the second, tolerated the third. Just don’t think I can muster up the sire to see the same thing again. Great review though.

  4. Good review. I’ll be posting mine tomorrow, but for me, it wasnt as scary as last year’s (which was my favorite one by the way). But for me personally, it earned a point alone just by the sheer terror that was the last 5 minutes.

  5. Good Review. I never watched any of them. Not a fan of the whole “found footage” films and they never seem to interest but I guess its time to check them out.

  6. Wait, what? There’s a possibility for a fifth one? How many found footage about one family can there be? It beginning to be like the Truman Show where their entire lives are recorded! But honestly, I’ll probably give this a pass at the cinemas and wait for the DVD. Nice review anyway!

  7. Like the zombie movies I started to get into these poltergeist movies. The last I liked Dan and your review prompts me to give this a go as well. Nice examination of the whole series too!

  8. For some reason a lot of young people got freaked out by the last one (3), I guess because of the witch coven. They should have been around in the 1970’s when Covens and Satan Worshipping Cults were in tons of films. I think PA mirrors the popularity of all the ghost hunting shows and true ghost stories on TV but then takes it that one step further, which is what makes it scary. I will definitely see this, though I can’t imagine the series going too much longer.

  9. Great review Dan! I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves this series. Both Alex characters were great.

    Always a good cinematic experience, just glad I haven’t had any nightmares yet!

  10. Great review! I haven’t seen the 3rd or 4th one yet…but after reading your review I feel like I need to. I saw the trailer 4 the other day, however I thought it may have been a bit predictable. I probably still would watch it anyway. Hope there’s more jumps and scares!

  11. Gotta disagree with you here Dan. I’m a big fan of the first one too. And like you, I was surprised with how well they did with the last one.

    But this failed on a dozen different levels. It wasn’t scary, and as you pointed out, the characters are just dumb. Sorry man, I think this one is… how does that one grade of yours go? “Some ol’ Bullshit”? LOL Thats you right? 😀

  12. I don’t think this movie deserves all the hate it’s been getting, but I don’t think it deserves a whole lot of love either. It’s basically just a B-movie version of the previous PA installments with predictable, unscary jump scares. There was plenty of tension throughout, but once the “scare” actually came along, I just sat and watched supposed to, you know… jumped out of my seat. I thought the two teenage leads were really good, however. The guy was hilarious and the girl was hot as hell. It was an alright movie, but wasn’t as good as the other 3 – in terms of scares.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s