So again, we come to a place where we have been before. A sequence of movies that tries to one-up the ante from the previous, has higher budgets, and uses more technology to bring it current. And so far, we’ve done not too bad of a job.
For those unfamiliar with the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, you have a basic formula.
1) Take unknown actors, some with virtually no experience.
2) Have some mysterious past/issue with the paranormal.
3) Set up a recording device that monitors each night with increasing activities.
4) Make this seem like it’s all real.
We’ve seen that found footage films actually do pretty well with audiences. Films like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Cloverfield,” “REC” and now tons of other ones are pouring out to help give a different perspective to the audience.
The story in “PA 4” is that several years after the events of “PA 2” we have some new neighbors who seem to have some shady stuff going around them. One of the children claims to talk to an entity that does things, and a young teenager tries to be a big sister and also record the events through her laptop and other devices. For those keeping score, “PA 3” was a prequel to the first and second installments, and did a good job with upping the ante.
The problem I have with PA 4 is that we’ve been down this road before, and the story is starting to get old. Sure we have some new scare tactics and some pretty neat technology usage, but this one didn’t have the same substance as the previous. And yes, while the first one had a number of major flaws, it succeeded on a very low budget and used a number of effects to really wow the audience, and made a lot of money, as did number 2, on a slightly higher budget. I guess what probably is more off putting to me is that fact that they children are the ones being targeted and I just don’t like to see that. Sure, it’s a central part of the story, the children being used for the nefarious/demonic purpose, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.
All in all, it’s the weakest of the story, and with a fifth installment coming out in October of 2013, I hope the writers and others involved can get a better story out there and make a movie that closes out the franchise with a powerful stroke. But something tells me if the studios can keep making money, they’ll draw it out as long as they can…