Thursday, 28 February 2013

Paranormal Activity 4: Blu Ray Review

Paranormal Activity 4: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

In Paranormal Activity 4, Katie Featherston returns as Katie as the film takes up five years after a possessed Katie killed her boyfriend Micah and also stole her sister's son Hunter after offing her sister Kristi. It's 2011 and the action switches to the suburbs and a new family about to be terrorised by ghostly goings on.

This time, it centres on teenage girl Alex (Newton) whose family is going through fractured times and is weathering a breakdown of her parents' relationship. However, Alex is starting off a relationship with Ben (Shively) and a lot of it is carried out on Skype chats.

Things take a turn for the creepy when Alex and her family are forced to take in neighbouring kid Robbie (Allen) for a while after his mum is hospitalised. Robbie befriends Alex's brother Wyatt and the pair form an uneasy bond.

And things get creepier as bumps and noises and all manner of spooky things start happening right after Robbie moves in - having left his mum Katie behind....

Paranormal Activity 4 is to be frank a bit of a disappointment after the creative highs of the third film.

This time around, modern tech plays more of a part - there's no cam fan like in the third film but everything of the mundane daily life is taped via Skype chats or webcams. Perhaps the smartest piece of taping comes courtesy of the use of XBox Kinect which turns everything in the front room into an alien glow with green dots scattered around - this is a smart touch by the writers.

Once again, there are fake outs as the tension's gradually eeked out and extended as far as it can go - and I have to admit by setting a lot more of the creepier action during the daytime hours, the creative team aren't exactly resting on their spooky laurels and are trying to do something a little different.

Long swathes of monitored action take place with little scares on hand - sure, there are bumps and knocks and doors close unexpectedly here and there, but the effect is somewhat akin to a low rent haunted horror house rather than a full on spooktacular.

Also, whereas the third film extended some of the film's mythology and storyline, this one, despite its trailer promising to let you "see where all the activity's been leading", does little to deepen the demon storyline and the family possession background. It's bitterly disappointing on that front. In fact, the spirit this time around seems more malevolent and intent on simply killing the residents whereas in the past, there's been hints of manipulation and reasons for the paranormal outings. It's a real shame because the ending when it comes delivers in spades on scares and leaves you wishing that there were more of those final scenes throughout 

There are a few scares, but never enough to give it the truly frightening edge it deserves. I'm just hoping that any inevitable future releases for this series think seriously about putting an end to the Paranormal storyline and offering up a creative resolution which is now sorely needed rather than continuing to extend the franchise simply for the money.

Extras: 30 minutes of unseen footage leads to extended cut and the Recovered Files


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