The original Paranormal Activity came out soon after gore porn was filling cinemas like a plague, emphasizing explicit destruction of bodies and hurting good cinema taste.
Here, the imaginations of the audience brought life to the horrors. The sounds of rustling, slamming doors and creaks kept up a chorus.
This has served the series well through its running times, each movie adding new tricks to raise the suspense as well as the hairs on our necks.
In Paranormal Activity 4, we have the latest upper middle class family now worrying about more than just their mortgages when a strange child named Robbie temporarily takes up residence in their house.
Speaking of, why are all the protagonists in this series so wealthy? Is this some kind of commentary on the cash bringing misery? Is more money really more problems?
Either way, this time around has a comely teen named Alex seeing spooks, and her family oblivious to the trouble Robbie is stirring.
Alex and her boyfriend Ben set up webcams and camcorders around the house to try and catch this malevolent spirit in the act.
I didn’t find fault in Kathryn Newton’s performance as Alex, but the real star of the show, as always, were the cameras.
Paranormal Activity 2 had security cameras, Paranormal Activity 3 had cameras that would pan and scan, and now Paranormal Activity 4 has cameras in computers.
This created a sense of intimacy that the other films didn’t always have. As the horrors went down in Paranormal Activity 4, the viewers sometimes had a close up view of the characters reacting to it all.
This proved incredibly fruitful during the most thrilling sequence in the entire series.
During one night, as Alex was without parents, she was trapped in the garage as the car was running and poisoning her with the toxic fumes.
Alex spun around, looking for a way out, her face right there. The thrill had no choice to be visceral when so close.
She resorts to desperate measures to try escaping, and it brings a cheer to see such will to stay alive.
That is what often feeds a good suspense film, seeing these characters fight for their lives like they mean something.
Sadly, the series has now reached a point where the mythology behind the hauntings has failed to provide further meaning.
There is no progress to be made here. It’s just running, screaming and slamming.
Regardless, it is nice to see series mainstay Katie Featherston really grow deeper into her frightening role as the demonic neighbor with secrets.
Those mysteries grew in depth during the last two movies, but didn’t take on center stage this time around.
Such a setback like this is indeed puzzling. There seemed to be a ripe chance for resolution, whether it be for a good ending or bad, but it did not happen.
Ironically, the original Paranormal Activity was made with a shoestring budget and relatively closed ending. It stood on its own.
Now, with big studio backing, this series is starting to run in circles and not give endings at all.
It’s for the money, which is bringing more problems to this aging franchise.
Hey, that saying is true. Who knew?
It’s one thing to take a same premise and build new stories around it, but technically the series is still running its same story. Just with different settings and warm bodies.
It is the time to end the tale and start anew.
Paramount Pictures took a chance in 2009 when they picked up Paranormal Activity for distribution even though nothing like it was playing at the time.
Another chance must be taken to keep a sense of momentum going in these middle class houses before the creativity behind the activity goes bankrupt.