Film Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 from Built For Speed

Yes it’s number four and not much has changed in the Paranormal world.

This film uses the same gimmick as the first three instalments: supposed found footage – this time recorded on laptop computers – reveals progressively more sinister events occurring in a suburban home.  Doors open by themselves, there’s lots of strange noises and creepy children appear from nowhere.  As with the previous Paranormals, the early part of the film is designed to lull us into a false sense of security with people going about mundane activities before supernatural events infiltrate their domestic world.

It might be familiar but that mix of realistic, matter-of-fact visual style and steadily increasing horror is still pretty effective and generates some genuine scares. While it sticks to the formula the film works but unfortunately number four also throws in some more fanciful horror elements like snarling demons that undermine the effect of the more realistic scenes.  This film also has some awkward inconsistencies, for example why can the demon woman fling people about with ease but not be able to break through a regular household door?

One change that works this time, though, is the use of computer projected infra-red vision that casts impressionist style dots over everything in the room and makes the mysterious phantoms that creep across the frame even more disturbing.

This instalment is clearly aimed at the teen market as it focuses on 15 year old Alice (Katherine Newton) who begins to suspect the family’s house guest – the young boy from across the street – is responsible for a series of bizarre occurrences in their home.  Little does she know that the boy is the son of the woman (Katie Featherstone) who went all Linda Blair in the first Paranormal Activity.

Interestingly the film pays homage to a number of classic horror films such as Poltergeist, The Shining, The Blair Witch Project and even spooky 70’s flick The Changeling.

The Paranormals have always been decent popcorn flicks and number four shows there’s still some life left in the old ghost.


Nick’s rating: Three stars.

Classification: M

Director(s):  Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Release date: 18th October 2012

Running time:  88 mins.

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