This is the fourth installment of this popular franchise series of strange yet supernatural encounters. The first film was released back in 2007 and has since spawned a fan base of “reality based” type occurrences. Not since the The Blair Witch Project released back in 1999 has a horror film appeased the masses. Both of these films have been produced on a shoe string budget afterwards having the good fortune to be released and distributed through a major studio.
This film keeps only a little bit of continuity which is questioned in the later half of the film; with the return of Katie Featherston who appeared in the original release and the sequels as Katie. The premise is her character is possessed by a demonic force which seems to take control of her, ever since she was a young child; she has been marked by this supernatural otherworldly presence.
Paranormal Activity 4 was produced with a budget of $5 million dollars; this is quite a leap from the original film which had a budget of $15,000 dollars. My wife and I watched the unrated edition of this film and both were disappointed overall. It is the weakest release to date. With a larger budget, the film could have been better in both the plot and sequences.
I did however think the casting was fine with Kathryn Newton she plays Alex; the story revolves around her and her family living in their neighborhood alongside her adopted brother Wyatt played by Aiden Lovekamp. Things start getting spooky when Wyatt’s new neighborhood friend Robbie played by Brady Allen shows up and stays with them. Matt Shively plays Ben and flirts with Kathryn Newton in a few scenes. He provides some sense of comedy relief in this story.
As with the other Paranormal Activity films, the audience watches what happens in playback mode. Each scene is shown with a series of recorded events which took place through strategically placed cameras in each room capturing the unthinkable. This time camera shots throughout the house come from laptop computers which include some first person perspectives. The use of pixel point dots on the camera in the living room was pretty interesting for the effect.
Probably the most eerie thing surrounding this film is the tragic death of one of the cast members. It is actor Stephen Dunham who plays Doug (the father). He suffered a heart attack and died on September 14, 2012, on his 48th birthday, in Burbank, California. Stephen was best known as Edward Pillows on the television series DAG. Alexondra Lee Stephen’s real life wife also appears in Paranormal Activity 4 as Holly. They were married for 7 years. Sprague Grayden portrays Adult Kristi (the mother) married to Stephen’s character Doug.
I think audiences will find this film to be entertaining, but it seemed to suffer a lack of further creativity by screenwriter Christopher Landon with the story by Chad Feehan. The film was directed by Henry Joost who previously worked on Paranormal Activity 3. Ariel Schulman also worked on the previous release as well.
Even still, I think fans of this series will appreciate it for what its worth, it keeps you wondering what might happen next, and that has always been the strength of this paranormal series. Just don’t expect an amazing ending to this release as it falls flat.