As soon as October rears its autumnal head you can bet that the cinema listings will be filled with enough remakes, sequels, prequels and newbie horror flicks to scare you for a lifetime. The trouble with the fourth instalment of Paranormal Activity, directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, is that it fails to provide any real scare factor for even five minutes- a statement I am displeased with. 

As a fan of the first three Paranormal offerings I was eagerly anticipating the story unfolding further, fast forwarding to present day and capturing footage with the help of webcams and an unnecessary amount of Apple products for one family to own. 

Yet with top technology and a new family to terrorise Paranormal Activity 4 lacks any new shocking scenes. In fact, in comparison with the previous films I felt it lacked the shadows, loud bangs and any form of final brutality that deliver the jumpy atmosphere that this genre thrives upon. 

Now, I understand that the true genius of this series of films is the suspense. That’s the selling point of these dynamic films. To be able to engage an audience with a blank screen or not much dialogue and still encapsulate the fear factor is pretty impressive, however, if you’re kept on the edge of your seat and your palms are sweating when the screen is blank or when that strange noise turns out to be the cat that kind of build up needs to come crashing down into a crescendo of sheer terror- something the previous films do very well. PA4 feels like just as the good stuff gets going, it finishes. 

There are some impressive scenes, but nothing that tops what we have seen before. The clueless parents who think their teenage daughter is acting out and haven’t noticed that their little boy is behaving weird are really grating. 

Their the classic parents from the horror genre who are completely oblivious and refuse to believe teenage Alex when she claims that things are not quite what they seem- even though Dad has a near miss with a knife suspended from the ceiling they do not seem to raise much alarm. 

Daughter Alex arranges with her boyfriend, Ben [Matt Shively], to turn the aforementioned numerous and ubiquitous computers in the spacious house into surveillance cameras, providing footage that more often or not is never watched by the family nor is it shown to the audience. If only she had managed to work out the steps of turning the raw data from webcam into video files- she may have been able to convince someone. However, that would have made for a more interesting movie, which begs the question, why does this offering ignore the footage? 

It’s essentially the unknown that is truly terrifying and the first film knew that. It was working around its low budget and new idea of captured footage but this made the lack of funding an incomparable virtue, as it seems in PA4 the budget has ruined the fear. 

Instead of the larger budget providing more dramatic scenes it crams a half-hearted storyline, which is becoming rather flawed throughout the franchise, and it ignores the slowly creeping intensity of the protagonists watching their footage back. 

It seems that the franchise have left the ending open for future antics but the underwhelming scenes in PA4 have left me wondering if they’ll manage to convince audiences to head back for a fifth instalment come next October 2013. If they do it will only be die-hard fans hoping that the franchise is back on track.

 

 

 

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.