Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return to direct the fourth entry in the Paranormal Activity series, Paranormal Activity 4, which is easily the worst film of the series, barely registering as a horror movie, with not a single jump-scare deemed clever or worthy of this throwaway franchise. The best thing to come from this piss-poor entry is its box office intake, which was still substantially lower than the previous installment.
Katie and Hunter are still missing. Now, the focus is attached to a new family, with a young daughter by the name of Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her friend Ben (Matt Shively). The two represent modern day teens that are obsessed with filming everything in their daily lives. That comes in handy as Alex notices creepy new neighbors. There’s a mysterious young boy that lives across the street and aside from randomly popping up and freaking out Alex, he occasionally talks to his invisible friend.
If you’ve seen at least one Paranormal Activity film then you should know where this loosely strung together plot is going. It’s leading us closer towards the vanishing of Hunter and Katie, tying in this new boy and simply using Alex, her family and Ben as the latest wrong-place wrong-time family to get innocently picked off one-by-one by a supernatural being.
What Paranormal Activity 4 fails to do this time around is provide the audience members with even a handful of well-timed jump-scares. The PA series has been known for cheap scares, but this one is the absolute worst of the bunch, with nothing coming even remotely close to being unexpected or scary. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman attempt to scrape the bottom of the barrel by inserting an Xbox Kinect sequence that’s supposed to register as clever and creepy, but really only comes off as an attempt to mix the found-footage element with what’s ever trending in today’s culture.
It’s sad seeing something as atrocious as Paranormal Activity 4 projected on a big screen at a movie theater, because the quality of the film is below what most would deem as a steaming pile of shit. It’s just unoriginal, boring and drawn-out well past the point of wanting to poke your eyeballs out.
It’s a frustrating experience having to live through the film once during its theatrical run and it’s even more painful trying to swallow it whole on Blu-Ray. The home viewing experience is much worse, because now the film’s use of deep bass and loud audio can barely startle you, even if you have your audio system turned way up.
Hopefully Paramount realizes that this series is on its downswing. Please wrap it up and do so quickly, because I don’t know how much more of these films I can take without losing all hope in the mainstream horror genre.
Paranormal Activity 4 comes to Blu-Ray with a not too pleasing 1080p video transfer that replicates the use of handheld cameras just fine. Some shots display strong clarity and a wide assortment of warm colors, while most feature severe image blocking and banding, with skin tones appearing smudged and smeared. These films have never looked good on Blu-Ray and that’s probably going to always be true as long as they stick to the found-footage shooting style.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track makes itself a little more useful than its video counterpart, but it’s still a very scattered track, with most of the film bogging down into complete silence. Whenever there’s a scare or a thump you’ll hear it and feel the rattle, but everything else is mostly quiet.
Here’s a list of bonus materials found on the disc:
- Unrated & Theatrical Cuts of the film
- The Recovered Files (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I’m not sure what the future holds for the Paranormal Activity series. I hope whatever is on the horizon is a swift and painless ending to a series that I absolutely cannot stand to watch anymore of. Paranormal Activity 4 is the lowest hanging fruit of the bunch, coming off as a completely scare-free experience that does nothing with the mythos of the characters.
Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost have proven that they can’t capture a scare on film if it hit them in the face (or dragged them across the room) and Paramount has clearly ran out of ideas to market this film.
The Blu-Ray is a pathetic release that contains one short special feature in addition to the usual DVD/Digital Copy bundles. The lengthier extended cut is nothing more than more footage of our protagonists walking around, acting dumb and staring into the camera with a big smirk on their face.
I hope people continue to wise up and turn their heads on future installments, because then maybe they’ll take a hint and wrap things up quicker than expected.
Don’t buy this film even if you are a fan, because the video transfer is unstable, the audio track is mostly quiet and there’s only one short special feature to dig into. This is a rental at best for fans and a skip and never watch for everyone else.
Paranormal Activity 4 is the worst of the series and one of the worst horror films ever made. It's bloated, drawn-out and has no idea how to provide a single actual scare.