The Paranormal Activity franchise is back with a fourth round, just in time for Halloween. The film’s debut garnered $4.8 million in midnight showings, ranking the film third-best in midnight showings for horror films (behind the third and second episodes of the Paranormal Activity series).
In terms of plot, Paranormal Activity 4 is a sequel to the second instalment of the series. It concerns the whereabouts of Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew, Hunter.
The series is known for its usage of “found footage” (which in this case means video recordings by missing or dead people), but Paranormal Activity 4 introduces a new technique: webcam footage. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman say the familiar technology is “built for a horror movie”, and they believe it rivals the “fan cam” from Paranormal Activity 3, which they also directed.
The film begins with many scenes where teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) are involved in video chats. When peculiar events happen in her house, Alex persuades Ben to install cameras around the house to record everything. From there, it doesn’t take much to guess that weird things will unfold on an increasingly larger scale.
Paranormal Activity 4 uses a sound effect that gives the impression of being in a plane, where there’s a constant vibration of air pressure, whenever there is some paranormal activity. This intensifies the experience and causes extreme sensitivity to any added sound effect or change in angle of the cameras.
On the other hand, the hand-held camera effect in this movie was a turnoff. The first-person view adds to the element of surprise, but is dizzying in many scenes, especially when Alex runs with the camera. I advise viewers to avoid front-row seats for this movie.
All in all, despite low ratings from critics, the same old deafening screams, the moving furniture, varying camera angles, continued plot, and stunning strength of the supernatural make Paranormal Activity 4 a must-see for all die-hard fans of the series. Plus, it’s a great way to start Halloween.