Paranormal Activity 4 follows the same formula as all the others: A first-person account story of a family whose home life is constantly disturbed by supernatural activity. The daughter, 15-year-old Alex (Katherine Newton), is aware of the ‘paranormal activity’ going on in her house. Of course, the parents don’t believe her, which ends up detrimental for everyone.
In the previous Paranormal Activities (1, 2, and 3) we are introduced to two sisters, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden). We learn that the all of the supernatural phenomenon that happen to these two sisters and their families occur because of their grandmother who was a part of a witches coven. This grandmother forever curses the family to be connected with a supernatural entity, commonly referred to as ‘Toby’.
At the end of Paranormal Activity 3, the last thing seen is a possesed Katie disappearing with her nephew, Hunter. Paranormal Activity 4 opens with Katie appearing with another young boy named Robbie (Brady Allen). She then disappears yet again,and leaves strange Robbie in the care of the family across the street.
The characters are all developed well enough. The family that takes Robbie in seems like a normal, average family — the parents are together, live in a happy home, have 2.5 children, etc. The daughter, Alex, has a boyfriend, mother, father, and little brother named Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). Strange things begin to happen when Robbie stays with them while his “mother” is away.
It is obvious from the beginning that Robbie is going to be a problem. His strange, monotonic way of speaking and his secrecy with the younger son, Wyatt, only add to his creepy aura.
Basically, the movie was very predictable from the beginning. The girl, Alex, realized what was going on and tried to tell the parents– the parents, of course, didn’t believe her. A few objects float around here and there and strange things happen at night.
With three movies preceding it, I expected to see a new and exciting plot or a different twist in the storyline, and was sadly disappointed.
The only new ideas presented in this movie are the use of setting up computers with webcams around the house at night– which was grossly similar to the previous use of setting up cameras at night. Instead of using them for horrifying scares, they used the webcams for “fake” ones: looking at empty rooms, the cat jumping and landing on the bed, etc. These made the audience jump, but didn’t leave a lingering ‘scared’ feeling.
The directors also toyed with the idea of using Kinect (for Xbox 360) to illuminate dark rooms at night and show supernatural presences. For me, though, the glowing green light took away from the visual and made scenes less scary.
Paranormal Activity 4’s ending was somewhat of a jumbled mess. Although the end was confusing, it concludes on a cliffhanger that implies there will be yet another sequel to the first– and could quite possibly change the direction of the whole series. Hopefully, for the sake of the everyone involved in this series, Paranormal Activity 5 will be better than the fourth.