Movie Review: ‘Paranormal 4’ spooks up laughter

Christina Collins Burton
Editor in Chief

The clever silhouette placements and high-pitched ringing sounds were about the only redeemable qualities of the fourth installment of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise.

Unlike the past films which left audiences shivering after the mention of the demonic storyline, this latest plot development left many people laughing rather than screaming.

The story picks up where “Paranormal Activity 2” left off. Hunter was kidnapped by Katie and the two of them were never found or heard from again. But now that all of their family is dead, you think it would be impossible for the story to continue right? Wrong.

With the introduction of Alex, played by Kathryn Newton, we are introduced to her family of four with her watching her younger brother Wyatt, played by Aiden Lovekamp, play soccer.

Instead of just letting the awkward camera shoved in a person’s face scenes play out, the director seemed to want to give them all some more depth by making the parents argue on camera as Alex and Wyatt talk as they argue off-screen.

These argument scenes that are sprinkled throughout the movie do nothing for the plot.

There is a scene involving a knife that seemed to pay homage to the original ending of “Paranormal Activity” when Katie stabs Micah.

But that theory was short-lived and the knife is never referenced or mentioned ever again.

With the introduction of the creepy boy next door, I had high hopes for the story to use everyone’s deep-seeded fear of emotionless children to scare me. Instead I found myself just getting annoyed by an eccentric little boy who looked like he dressed in the dark.

He was not scary at all and many of the scares I experienced, more than once, were caused by a loud thud.

To assist with the amount of jump scares, I guess editors of the film felt the need to half ass all of the editing and just cut and jump a majority of the movie.

The scariest one of these jump scares ended up being caused by the family’s cat landing very close to the microphone­ – beware of curious cats.

As the story progressed, gaping plot holes kept the story from making sense. There is never any explanation given on why Robbie, played by Brady Allen, is such an important character.

Besides doodling on Wyatt and creeping Alex out with his sandals and socks, he does not serve much of a purpose, and after the big reveal of the movie, he disappears.

The only saving point of the movie is Alex’s boyfriend Ben, played by Matt Shively, whose clever one-liners and carefully built jokes are reminiscent of Micah’s humor from the first film.

Instead of jumping or screaming, I heard more laughter the first half of the movie than all of the first three combined.

When the movie finally settles into the creepy atmosphere fans are used to, it is so short-lived that when people were leaving the theater they were totally calm.

This latest installment was beat to death and did not even use the elements from past movies that reference the demon’s existences.

Low growling sounds, bite marks mysteriously appearing on people’s bodies and the long drag down a hallway ending with a classic possession is surprisingly lacking for a movie that reused those elements three times.

Like many of the franchises before it, “Paranormal Activity 4” used jump scares as a crutch and gave up on its own traditions in order to squeeze money out of the die-hard horror movie audiences.

Hopefully any more sequels that may or may not be on their way will be a direct to DVD blip on the radar.

My only suggestion for anyone that is yet to see “Paranormal Activity 4” is to stay after the credits, and know at least basic Spanish.

Christina Collins Burton can be reached at

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