Paranormal Activity 4

Directed By: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Starring: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Brady Allen, Aiden Lovekamp, Stephen Dunham, and Alexondra Lee

I normally start out a review on a crappy horror movie by throwing around some wisecracks about Hollywood's obsession with terrible scary movies that are often tantamount to torture porn.  I've got something a little different to talk about today, Hollywood's recent obsession with kids in horror movies.  Lately, they're the killers.  They're the possessed ones.  They're the ones talking to ghosts.  Don't believe me.  Go check out films like Sinister, The Possession, and Paranormal Activity 4.  Speaking of the fourth installment in the supernatural horror franchise, it's that time of the year for random things to start happening in some unassuming teen's home.

In October 2006, Katie (Katie Featherston) abducts her nephew Hunter, and neither of them have been found to date.  In October 2011, Alex (Kathryn Newton) is a 15-year-old teen living an ordinary life in the suburbs with her parents Doug and Holly (Stephen Dunham and Alexondra Lee) and her adopted brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp).  She stays on her webcam Skyping with her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) for hours and hours every day.  When Robbie (Brady Allen), the strange boy from across the street, has to stay at her house while his mom is in the hospital, odd supernatural phenomena start occurring all over the home, and Alex puts her webcam to use to try to figure out what's really happening.

As a comedy, Paranormal Activity 4 is not so bad.  As a horror movie, it royally sucks.  There's not one damn thing that's actually scary about this fourth installment in the supernatural horror series.  While Matt Shively's Ben is one funny dude that keeps the laughs coming whenever he's on screen, this is supposed to be a scary movie.  It's supposed to provide some thrills and chills.  In this sense, Paranormal Activity 4 is an epic failure.  Because there are no frights in the movie, it's pretty boring when Shively is not on camera, which is most of the film.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman pull absolutely nothing new out of the horror movie playbook.  All the failed attempts at scaring the audience are utterly predictable.  All the characters make the same stupid moves that we’ve seen a thousand times over and get themselves killed.  All the major plot points have been done previously.  Ultimately, there's no new ground covered.  The film lacks originality, but this is Paranormal Activity 4 after all.  We've seen this same story three times previously.

I will say that the mockumentary style of Paranormal Activity 4 is not as annoying as it typically is.  Obviously, there are plenty of moments where you have to wonder why the hell Alex would be recording something, but there's a little more legitimacy to Alex's perpetual use of the webcam.  For better or worse, she's always video-chatting with her boyfriend Ben, who just happens to be sketchy and records videos of his girlfriend (and others) at night while she’s asleep.  With this in mind, the constant recording is not as random as it has been in previous Paranormal Activity flicks.

While those who get their kicks out of this sort of nonsense will still go see the movie and enjoy it, Paranormal Activity 4 is just another terrible attempt at a scary movie.  If I didn't have a few good chuckles thanks to Matt Shively, I'd definitely be breaking out the shot glasses.  Paranormal Activity 4 gets a 0.09% rating.  Grab a few whiskey sours for this one.  There's no supernatural fun here.