“Paranormal Activity 4” review


Paranormal Activity 4 gives you what you exactly expect, nothing more, nothing less. That’s assuming you know what the series is about. If not, let me fill you in. The series centres on Katie Featherston’s and her family who has been haunted by a demon for a number of years. Each film shows the demon haunting the house of her family. The first Paranormal Activity centred around Katie and her boyfriend Micah and the second on her sister’s family. The third film was a prequel to the previous two films, which actually happened around the same. The third film happened in the late ‘80s and revolved around Katie’s family when she and her sister were young children. The fourth film takes place 6 years after the first two films. Paranormal Activity 4 centres on a 15 year old girl named Alex, who lives with her parents and her little brother Wyatt. The neighbour’s son, Robbie, keeps coming to Alex’s house for unexplained reasons. After Robbie’s mother ends up in hospital, Robbie stays with Alex’s family. Afterwards, the family and especially Alex begin to notice strange occurrences happening in their house.

As I said before, this movie does exactly what you expect. It doesn’t break new grounds by all means. Just like its predecessors, it’s a “found footage” horror film. This means that everything you see in the film is supposed to be from camera footage taken from the missing or deceased. PA4 tries to be more up to date this time around, as most of the footage comes from MacBook computers and Kinect for the Xbox 360. The Kinect stuff is rather gimmicky but the Macbook footage works well enough. Using up to date technology surely works in the films favour.

I’ve seen all the Paranormal Activitys in the cinema, except for the third one, and it seems to me that this series is the new Saw. A horror franchise with which the first instalment gets people talking, so they release a new instalment Halloween time every year. New instalments in each series gave you exactly what you’d expect. Is that a bad thing? From a critical standpoint, yes, but I’ve become a fan of Paranormal Activity, just like I became a fan of Saw, so it’s not too bad. Yes, I did pay to see the same movie in the cinema, but it was still a good night out. Listening to girls in the audience scream is always fun, even though it happened a lot less this time around. While I admit I haven’t watched many horror movies, Paranormal Activity is definitely the scariest of the bunch. It’s a great example of the most frightful being what we don’t see. We’ve seen bits and pieces of this demon, but we haven’t seen its true form. A fifth film has been confirmed, as well as a sixth, so maybe we will get that chance.

The main cast in PA4 is actually pretty solid. The weakening relationship of Alex’s parents doesn’t get touched upon as much as I expected, but actors all put on a reasonably believable performance. The young child who played the kid from across the street, Robbie, deserves a medal, because he successfully played one of the creepiest kids I have ever seen.

As there isn’t much gore in this film, which is very rare for a horror film these days, the film depends on bringing the scares without grossing you out. It’s been a couple of years since I saw the second film, but I remember it cutting it the chase so quickly, with cheap scares, that it felt a bit rushed. PA4 on the other hand, doesn’t really get scary until the last part. The last 5-10 minutes will be the most memorable, just like the previous three films. It works, but fails to match the scares provided by the first movie or even the third.

PA4 has been mostly panned by critics, and is the first in the series to get a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t think it’s the worst in the series; that honour belongs to the second one. I definitely think the first and third are better though. Both were much scarier too. It’s not necessarily because it is the fourth film and it seems repetitive, but because the movie itself simply isn’t as good. To illustrate my point, I thought the original Saw was pretty good, and the second one was ok. The third one was awful, and the fourth was just as bad. Fifth was a slight improvement, and the sixth one was surprisingly decent. The seventh and final one did exactly what I wanted as an ending, so it was alright in my books. And also in my books, is that so far, Paranormal Activity hasn’t released a bad film in its series, although it’s clear which are the best, and is also clear that the series needs to be refreshed, because I sincerely doubt PA5 will be any good at all if it follows the same structure of the other movies.

Paranormal Activity 4 is a good movie. Not as good as the first one, or the third, but it’s better than the second. It gives you exactly what you expect and nothing else. This lack of the element of surprise might turn moviegoers off, but for me and my friends, this is something to l look forward to every year, and is especially entertaining to see in the cinemas and I am looking forward to how this series eventually ends. If you’ve seen all the others in the series and enjoyed them, then you’ll probably want to see this one. If you didn’t enjoy the others, or 2 and 3, then I doubt you’ll enjoy the fourth instalment. PA4 is a very polarising film, and those who aren’t fans may not understand what all the fuss is about. However, this is still a horror franchise that brings on the scares, even if subsequent instalments may never match the punch of the first film, which was responsible for two sleepless nights.

Rating: 3.5/5



  1. I know I’m in the minority with this one, but I still had a good time with this flick even though it was nothing all that special from what’s been done before. Maybe I’m just too much of a fan. Good review.

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