Paranormal Activity 4

 
(i)

 

Fourth in spooky series runs out of ideas -- and scares.
  • Review Date: October 18, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Bad things simply happen to good people in this movie, with no sense of justice or fairness.

Positive role models

A teen girl shows responsibility in her home, looking after her little brother and listening to her parents' rules and guidance. Unfortunately, this admirable behavior doesn't pay off.

Violence

An evil, unseen demon pushes a boy underwater in the bathtub. A teen boy's neck is snapped. A grown woman and man are hurled around rooms, smashing up against walls and on floors. A teen girl is locked in a garage with a car engine running. Some scary faces/monsters are shown very briefly, and some blood is shown (mainly in flashbacks to the second movie). An ongoing sense of dread/fear permeates the movie.

Sex

A teen boy flirts with a teen girl, placing his hand on her knee. Over a Skype chat, he asks to see her "boobie" (she refuses).

Language

"F--k" and "s--t" are used several times, mainly by a teen boy. Other words include "c--k," "hell," "bitch," and "ass."

Consumerism

An Xbox with Kinect is shown and mentioned several times and is part of the movie's design. A character demonstrates how it radiates pinpoints of light (sensors) throughout a room, which can be seen in certain conditions. Other products displayed in the background include Pepsi, V8, Popchips, and Jif peanut butter. A Prius is mentioned. The Google web browser is shown.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The father is shown drinking beer and wine while watching TV in one scene. The mother gives the teen daughter a sleeping pill, and the father argues with her about it.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Paranormal Activity 4 is the fourth in the spooky Paranormal Activity series. Violence is about the same as in the others: More is suggested than shown, though there are some sudden bursts of "demon" activity (i.e. characters tossed about and injured by unseen forces). A teen's neck is snapped, and there are some monster faces and a little blood (mostly in flashback). Language is a bit stronger in this one, with several uses of both "f--k" and "s--t." A teen boy and girl flirt mildly but mostly seem to be friends. An Xbox with Kinect becomes a major storytelling device. Teens who survived the first three movies might want to make it a point to catch this one, but it's becoming very clear that the series is running out of steam.

What's the story?

At the end of Paranormal Activity 2, Katie (Katie Featherston) and her young nephew disappeared. In PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4, we catch up with a new family, a couple with a teen daughter, Alex (Kathryn Newton), and an adopted son, Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). Strange neighbor boy Robbie (Brady Allen) starts showing up and hanging around with Wyatt; weird things start to happen, and Robbie seems to be able to see and speak to some kind of mysterious imaginary friend. Alex's friend, Ben (Matt Shively), rigs the family's computers (one in every room?) to record everything. Meanwhile, Alex meets Robbie's adopted mother, Katie, in the house across the street. What's going on here, and how is it connected to Katie's sinister past?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman -- who came up with some inspired ideas for Paranormal Activity 3 as well as making the unsettling Catfish -- can't seem to find a reason for Paranormal Activity 4 to exist. The story here, hinged on one big twist, makes absolutely no sense, and whatever sympathy we used to have for Katie is now gone.

The scares have also grown lazy. The nighttime sequences, usually reserved for the big stuff, are now tepid and disappointing, and the daytime sequences, usually reserved for rest periods, are now filled with silly jump-shock stuff, often having nothing to do with the paranormal (i.e., a cat jumping into the frame). Even the surveillance footage is haphazardly explained here, whereas in the previous films there was always a reason for it. The only interesting factor is that the film continues its exploration of "broken," and/or nontraditional family units. But sadly, that's not enough to recommend this tired sequel.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Paranormal Activity 4's violence, both implied and shown. Which kind has more impact? Why?

  • How scary was the movie? What scared you most, and why? How did you feel about being scared?

  • What would be the effect of constantly filming your life?

  • Is Alex, the teen girl, a role model? What does she do that's courteous and helpful, and what does she do that's not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 19, 2012
DVD release date:January 29, 2013
Cast:Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Matt Shively
Directors:Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Horror
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some violence/terror

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Adult Written bydavyborn October 19, 2012
 

Fourth film in the franchise is weaker than the first and third, better than the second. Not for kids.

It's October again, and the latest film in the franchise that once started off rediculously promising but has now turned into the next Saw franchise (only substantially more profitable, that is) is finally here, with Paranormal Activity 4. Now, before you get the feeling that I disliked this movie, please allow me to elaborate a little bit more so, here. Now, I am a huge fan of the Paranormal Activity films, and I know that this is one of those franchise's that has a vastly seperated legion of followers: The group of people who think that these movies are scary, intense and enjoyable. And than, there is the other group of alternatively polar opposities, who believe that these films are just cheap, messy, badly acted and boring waists of time. Now, despite the fact that, again, I am a moderately big fan of the series, overall, I am still find myself mainly pitted somehwere in the middle, here. I absolutely loved the first entry in the series, because I thoiught that it was an original (for the time, that is), smart and very, very scary, and a very memorable horror film. The second film, I thought, was a relentless dissapointment, with a much limper narrative constructive set, and, the scares just simply didn`t pay off for me in that one. The third one, which of course was last years Paranormal Activity 3, I thought was the best in the franchise, even better than the first film, because it was incredibly creative and imaginative in it`s scares, had the most likable characters yet, and it had a virtually unforgettable (to me, at least) ending that stuck with me for a while. Whew. Now that I got all of that exposition off of my chest, let`s finally just get to it, shall we? Paranormal Acitivty 4 picks up five years after the second film left off, with (spoilers!) Katie killing her sister Kristi, and stealing her son Hunter. Now, five years later, we are introduced to a new set of family bound-characters living in a very nice Neveda suburb. Now, our teenage lead Alex (Kathryn Newton) begins feeling the presence of something evil when the neighbors creepy son comes over to stay with them for a couple of weeks, after his mother ends up in the hospital after an unexplained dilemma that is never really elaborated upon further. Now, Alex spends much of the movies running time just randomly exploring the house and chatting with her boyfriend on skype, via her laptop, which supplies the film with much of it's humor, which is effective. Also relativly well done and effective, is, of course, the relentless sequence of jump scares that will induce shock itno you, but are not terribly effecting or all that memorable. Really, even with the last ten minutes amping up the suspense, I thought that they rushed through it so fast that they barely had any time to actually thoroughly scare us properly, and, as a fact of that, the movie just ends, and you can't help but think to yourself "Is that it?" Still, Paranormal Activity 4 is substantially better than the scond film, if not nearly as good as the first and third films in the series. It still applies a versatile league of characters, some fairly effective tension and scares, relieving humor, and, finally, and rather most surprisingly, some of the best acting of the series, which surprised me. Now, like the other three films in the series, Paranormal Activity 3 is rated R, and should not be seen by any young kids, or, for that matter, even most younger teens who can't hold there suspense very well, so, here we go: The film is wall-to-wall with jump scares, tension and nerve-wracking suspense, but there is actually very little on-screen violence. But, what does occur, includes several sequences such as: A young boy being forcefully held under water in a bathub for an extended period of time, and than be released in a delerious state; a teenager having his neck brutally snapped and his body hidden; a woman being thrust through the air by an unseen entity, and slammed violently onto the ground to her death, face first, and more. Also, there is some moderate sexual references here and there, which include a few implied moments of a teenage boy`s attempts to seduce his sweet and rather innocent young girlfriend, but this never goes anywhere. And, finally, there is about as much profanity as there was in the third film, and that was also on the tamer side of the franchise`s profanity count, but, still, there are several uses each of f--k, sh-t, h-ll, g-dd-mn, jesus, c-ck and more. Alsoo, finally, Paranormal Activity 4 may not be the best film in the series, by a long shot, but, for what it is, it is a reasonably fun enough horror film, and a decently good time at the movies. Reccomended.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byAmericanplaya217 April 14, 2013
 

dissapointing

The movie is violent and has some scares. There is a lot of adult language frequently and product placement is clearly visible in more than one scene. The movie is okay and a one time watch. The franchise should just stop by now. Its not worth your time.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 15 years old Written byBeavisandButthead April 14, 2013
 

Iffy for 14+

This isn't as scary/good as the third one.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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