Friday, February 1, 2013

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Well, that was a rather disappointing evening--let's hope this is the end of the franchise.  While others complained that PA2 and PA3 were simply more of the same, I forgave the films and found something to love, be it a character or an interesting tie-in to the plot.  But, having recently rewatched the third installment, I now find myself very put out with the constant reuse of swinging chandeliers, falling objects, and bickering domestic partners (though this is part of the plot, as tension exacerbates the violence of the entity).  And as if I weren't already begging for the runtime to elapse, the end proved to me that the filmmakers weren't interested in taking the opportunity to add a fourth installment seriously.

Let me now join the ranks of others who focus on the silly logistical liberties that drive found-footage and mockumentary movies.  Usually I can overlook the usually thin reason behind the continuous filming (as opposed to the character or characters dropping the stupid camera, getting a grip on reality, and taking sensible action), but this one is all over the place, with the spliced-together footage taken across all manner of Apple devices.  I couldn't help but be reminded that this was a movie because of all the necessary editing.  And again, yes, this is something that happens all over the previous two installments, as our characters setup multiple cameras, but this time there were jump-cuts edited in for scare tactics that wore out their welcome and killed the charm established by the original Paranormal Activity.

Putting aside my disdain for all the trademark PA antics, I will say that I quite enjoyed the two main characters, Kathryn Newton as Alex, and Matt Shively as Ben.  Finally, some teenagers in a horror movie that I am pulling for instead of against.  In fact, I actually came to like and care for these characters, even if the movie didn't pull me into the realm of feeling a sense of the fear they felt.  The chemistry between Alex and Ben was spot-on; I liked the on-the-cusp-of-friend-zone dynamic that drove their interactions.  The parents, however, were completely dismissible.  I know they were supposed to remain aloof and distracted from the goings-on in the house by all their domestic tensions, but their distractedness felt too forced.  Stephen Dunham may well have been sleepwalking through the movie.

The backstory that drives the movie is revealed in such as way as to produce hardly any effect at all.  It's just like, Oh, and guess who this really is?  DUM-DUM-DUUUUMMM!  And the very last frame is not only a complete copy of one of the previous PAs; it is completely ridiculous to boot.  I've made it clear that there are no new scares brought to the table here, but in retrospect I realize that the main scare was centered around a certain character's appearance.  And, for me, it actually worked.  I felt a nice little chill travel my spine.  But, sadly, this and the dynamic between Alex and Ben are the only things of worth I was left with.  I don't think I've been this excited and then disappointed since Alexandre Aja's Piranha.

Rating: 2/5

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