John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Sixty-Nine : Paranormal Activity 4
I have to say, for all the praise I gave the first Paranormal Activity, despite popular opinion, and for the credit I tried to give the follow up, and even for the crap factor of the third, nothing in this series makes me more befuddled or angry than the fourth installment.
So far, the order we’ve needed to watch these movies, at least to make a linear story, is Part 3 first, Part 2 second, Part 1, then the end of Part 2. Which takes us to Part 4. To begin with, Katie is giving her nephew Hunter a bracelet. Why? Well, it’s never explained. No one cares. It’s just padding to remind us who these characters are. And wow, we’ve gone a long way from Katie. Let me explain my biggest cause of concern with this installment.
I really felt bad for Katie in Part 1. More than I think I’ve felt for any character in any horror movie. Sure, Regan in “The Exorcist” didn’t deserve it, but it was fun to see the demon. More fun than seeing a 10 year old girl, at least. In this movie though, Katie didn’t deserve anything and honestly, she was terrified and with the bonehead boyfriend Micah not helping, she was all alone.
The last image we’ve seen of her, however, is possessed and killing her sister. So is there a bad taste in our mouths? Not really. We still feel bad for the things that happened to her in the first installment.
Anyway, this movie. It stinks. We meet a family of people who, not only aren’t related to the previous story, but film each other all day every day literally just for the sake of doing it. Or for the sake of a new movie being made. Alex is a teenage girl who films her parents, who are detestable humans who you want to die, and her little brother Wyatt.
One day a kid named Robbie shows up and it turns out she’s the child of the house across the street. Who lives there? Well, it’s not exactly a spoiler. It’s Katie. So we know this kid is just…well…wrong. Robbie and Wyatt start playing together, including with the Kinect for X-Box, which leads to a cool special effect that is used about ten-thousand times too many. Soon stuff around the house starts creeping out Alex and her boyfriend Ben. And at the same time, Katie has to go to the hospital so Robbie has to stay over. One night he sleeps beside Alex, which Ben catches on his webcam recorder.
Plot device, anyone?
Robbie drops a chandelier on Alex. Or at least, he tries to. He also convinces Wyatt that his real name is Hunter. In fact, Wyatt has an argument with the demon in the TV that his real name isn’t Hunter. Which makes no sense. If Katie stole Hunter, why does Katie have another kid, and who is Robbie? How did Katie lose Hunter? I hope that’s not what Part 5 has in store for us.
So while avoiding killing the cat which I really pulled for, the demon does slasher-style murder the mother, and Katie does her now patented neck-snap of Ben as he snoops around looking for answers. All the while, the demon tries killing Alex and also teaches Wyatt all the things he needs to know to become Hunter and join the cult from the last movie.
And in an ending that rivals the pisspoor ending of Part 1, CGI Demon-Katie chases Alex out of her house and into the waiting arms of the cult, all while she holds her laptop to film it for our amusement. However, I am not amused.
So I skipped a lot of stuff in this review. But I don’t care. That’s the point. I don’t care about these characters. I don’t care about the X-Box effect. What I care about is Katie, what’s happening with Hunter, and who and what this cult is about. And I get nothing with that. Katie’s trip to the hospital is never explained. In fact, nothing is. This movie is 90 minutes, and it feeds us about 10 seconds of information to further the previous timeline, which is getting more complicated each movie. And that’s not a good thing.
I don’t find it plausible that the demon is taking on Jaws IV attributes and going long distances to pick out victims, either. This demon was said to be attached to Katie. Then it turns out it was really attached to her sister Kristy before being pretty much dumped on her. And if you go back to when they were kids, it was attached to Kristy all along. Now all of the sudden it’s attached to Alex? And it’s killing random people in random places?
Is there a motivation? I don’t know anymore. The only reason to continue to film on things like laptops and handheld cameras is to keep the “realism”, but when your movie starts with a flashback, just what is realistic about it anymore?
My thoughts? Look. There’s a story buried under this mess. And I want to know what that story is. Rather than playing the movies for jumps and shadows, go back to the creepy subtle tone of the first. Also, lose the handheld camera. We know it’s a movie. No one’s buying into what they’re seeing anymore. And if you’re gonna keep the cult storyline in, explain it. Or add to it. And I don’t mean add 10 seconds to it. Make your movie about it. Give Katie some sort of redemption while you’re at it, because I really do like her as a character, but not what was done in Part 4. It makes no sense to dread Katie. She’s not Freddy or Jason. She’s a helpless woman in a helpless situation.
So, in conclusion, skip this movie. Don’t even bother. It is completely useless in the storyline, and it adds nothing to the series, and only serves to take it further from its terrifyingly effective, subtle, creepy roots.