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Paranormal Activity 4: Good? It Depends.

By James Keith · October 23, 2012

So I just got done seeing Paranormal Activity 4 and wow am I a basket case of emotion right now. I really wanted to like this movie going in, because, like a lot of people, I liked the first and, unlike a lot of people, I liked the last one. But I also knew I was probably going to hate it because, since when has the 4th installment of any movie series ever been a good one? And wouldn’t you know, I actually liked and hated it.

Whoever wrote the story (Chad Freehan) should never be hired again for writing stories again. Whoever directed this movie (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman) should be allowed to keep directing, but should be slapped on the wrist for going along with this poorly written film, kind of in the same way the group from Seinfeld was arrested for not helping the pedestrian who was being robbed. But whoever cast this movie and whoever wrote the dialogue (Christopher Landon) should indeed be hired for casting and writing dialogue for movies again without punishment.

If you’re expecting something new from this movie, you’re not going to get it. And part of that is okay. I mean the hand held camera has its place in scary movies, and it works for this movie, as well. It also has the same ‘roided out pedophile ghost monster thingy that breaths like a rhino, only plays with children, and tosses people across rooms.  It doesn’t answer any of the mysteries still lingering from the first three, bring any closure to the series, or even leave the series opened ended that could tie into a possible 5th one.

But I don’t even care about any of that. I mean its Paranormal Activity 4. I just want to have the crap scared out of me, mainly because I haven’t been getting enough fiber in my diet lately.  And I want a story that will not get in the way of it.

And for roughly 3/4ths of the movie the story does just that. Chad Freeman does a great job of bringing up a lot of interesting plot points and things to be interested in. There is a virgin who must be sacrificed by a possessed boy, the dad who doesn’t really pay attention to his adopted son, a creepy kid who sneaks into bed with girls and cops a feel, and a wife and husband who clearly have some issues.

The problem is that I think Freeman put a little too much on his plate. It’s kind of like an over-stuffed burrito. If you’re a fat kid trapped inside a perfectly sculpted, majestic body like mine, then nothing gets you more excited than the thought of a burrito loaded to the max with extra beef, cheese, guacamole, and beans. But then as soon as you pick it up, all of the toppings fall out because the burritos structural integrity can’t hold. It’s the essence of disappointment. My future son could fail out of middle school, play Magic the Gathering as a hobby, and grow up to become an  escort for the geriatric set and still not disappoint me as much as this overstuffed burrito of a movie has.

Remember the paragraph before I started talking about burritos? The one where I talked about all the interesting sub plots going on? Well, literally none of that is brought to any sort of resolution at the end of this movie.  It’s like the love of your life calls you, leaves you a message and says, “I really need to speak with you. It’s urgent.” And then never brings it up again.

And it’s a shame, too. The movie is still pretty good, but it had the potential to be great. Kathryn Newton who plays the main character, Alex, here is just dynamite. Next teenage childhood star in the making. You’ll definitely be seeing her in other films in the near future…and then in tabloids and mug shots a little later. You know, a standard successful Hollywood starlet career path. Her boyfriend (Matt Shively) also does a great job here. He reminds me a lot a younger me. Just completely and relentlessly pestering the ever loving heck out of girls until they decide—okay fine you can buy me stuff and take me on dates but I’m still not going to sleep with you. The chemistry shared between them makes you like them and thus care enough about their characters so that you actually give a crap about what’s going to happen to them. The creepy kid also did a great job of being creepy. In a low budget horror movie that’s enough to get excited about, and in the fourth film in a low budget horror series its down-right shocking.

If you want to take a girl out on a date, make her laugh and scare her into your arms, or if you just want to have a few beers and go see a fun, scary movie with your buds because you are too ugly or weird to have a girlfriend, then this is the movie for you. But if you were looking for closure to this series, you might as well just wait for the 5th one to come out. Or the 6th or the 7th or the…..