The Exorcist is perhaps regarded as the ‘daddy’ of all supernatural horror films – but even this mighty head-spinning, dread-inducing masterpiece couldn’t muster more than two lacklustre sequels.
Paranormal Activity, however, is a modern day horror phenomenon, one that effectively energised the ‘found footage’ subgenre and is going strong into its fourth movie.
However, if we’ve learned anything about horror franchises, it’s that part four is often a weak effort – so can Paranormal Activity buck the trend or is the curse of the fourth movie about to strike again?
The first film broke new ground with its intimate ‘the horror is right in your home’ gimmick, part two still delivered on the scares and even part three upped the ante by showing why all this paranormal activity was kicking off in the first place.
But now something has gone badly wrong. This entry feels weak, rushed and lacking in any real scares other than the occasional ‘jump’ moment.
If you’re a Paranormal Activity fan, you need to seriously lower your expectations because while part four brings back many of the original components and characters, the creeping dread has gone AWOL along with the inventiveness.
The story takes place five years after the events of the second film, beginning with a brief recap of how possessed Katie went on a murderous rampage, killing her sister Kristi and disappeared with baby Hunter. Got all that?
The action then switches to 2011 where young teen Alex (promising newcomer Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) start to notice strange things going on after a weird kid and his mum move in across the street. Might they be Katie and Hunter?
As usual the level of ‘paranormal activity’ escalates slowly to a crazy last two minutes which raises more questions than it answers.
Laptops and webcams form most of the surveillance footage this time round.
The new family are basically here to do nothing but wonder about the odd kid and then probably die while the plot stumbles along, failing to move the brand into anything new or even interesting.
It would be tragic if the series ended on this damp squib after starting so strongly, but unless the creators manage to pull off a feat of staggering supernatural resurrection with part five, all the activity has not led up to much.