Friday, October 26, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4

Do I really need to explain? It's basically the same as the last 3 times. Ghostly shit happens, coincidentally all the principles involved happen to be video recording every damn moment of their lives. Blah blah blah. This time we have a creepy kid, and an even more actively murderous Katie. Otherwise: same shit, different sequel.

I'm not going to say I was looking forward to Paranormal Activity 4; I'm just not a fan of these movies. However, part 3 was by far my favorite, and they brought back the same directors, so I thought this would be more along those lines. 3 had a few clever ideas, most notably the oscillating fan camera, so maybe they'd have some cool new ideas for this one.

I guess they have some new ideas, but none of them are any good. The most prevalent one is that the main character and her boyfriend are constantly using Skype, which... big whoop. It doesn't really change anything about the dynamics of the film, except that the "camera" is more stationary, but the film rarely uses that to its advantage. The other new idea is that the family in this film has an XBox Kinect, and when you turn a camera onto night vision mode, you can see the motion sensors as a bunch of glowing dots in the room. I'm not really sure what they were going for except probably a blatant piece of product placement, but it leads to a handful of unmemorable moments where you can see some ghostly figures moving in the dots. It's not a particularly scary or effective special effect.

The one interesting idea in the whole film actually involves the Kinect, where the kids are playing a game and some unseen force briefly starts controlling player 2, using a creepy looking avatar. It kinda works because the avatar is just this blank, stupid face on the screen, but it almost looks like it's peering out at the characters. So of course this turns out to be one brief moment in the film and is never explored again.

The last movie introduced some of the only plot development in the whole series, a weird twist ending where it turned out that Katie's grandmother was a part of some sort of coven of witches, and they were behind the hauntings. I thought maybe they were going to explore this more, but no such luck. Instead we just get a bunch vague stuff about possession, and the family's son being Katie's nephew (which really confused me; didn't she abduct him at the end of the second film? But now he's adopted and living with a new family? And if that's the case, who is the kid living with Katie?) I'm not sure the story is adequately spelled out, and not in an eerily ambiguous way, just in a poorly executed way.

I guess I would say this is marginally better than the terrible part 2. It's slightly less uneventful, and it doesn't botch anything as epically as part 2 did with it's security camera gimmick. (This one uses a similar gimmick, doesn't do anything interesting with it, but at least does a better job framing the individual shots). There's almost nothing to recommend here except, as with some of the other entries in the series, some reasonably likable lead characters. Otherwise, this is more or less a cinematic dead zone.

Rating: D+

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