Written by 11:37 pm Movies

Paranormal Activity 4 Reviewed

Haven’t added a movie review in ages (who even reads these? Probably just me…) but what’s a blog without some posts?

Now that me and the missus have BT Infinity — fibre-to-the-cabinet a.k.a “super-fast” broadband (depending on what the speeds are like where you’re reading this, of course) — let’s just say it’s 70Mbps and have done with it okay? Fast enough for Super HD streaming on Netflix, hellooo and thank you very much Mr British Telecom. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Netflix. Movies, that’s what we were talking about. So we’ve seen quite a few of them these past few months which makes it all the stranger that I’m starting with a review of, let’s face it, a pretty awful film. But we saw it last night and it’s fresh in my mind so away we go…

As is too-often the case with sequels, trilogies and, in this case a quad-rilogy — actually there are 5 of them now but I don’t know the right word for that? Quin-rilogy? Quin-tu-pology? Let’s check Google shall we… okay so it’s “pentalogy” is it? That makes perfect sense (to nobody) — So the problem here is that we’ve seen it all before. Three times. The first time was, quite frankly, terrifying. Especially if you watched it at home with the lights off and the sound up LOUD. I swear our bedroom door was moving by itself for at least a week… Second time around it still worked, but we went to see it at the cinema and it wasn’t quite the same: by the time I got home I’d forgotten about being scared and, my bed being rather more comfortable than a cinema-chair, fell asleep straight away. No nightmares there. Third time we bring in some little kids to give the franchise a twist. Mild improvement but still the same old “home video” effect with doors clearly fitted by amateur carpenters with no access to a spirit level and I’m starting to think the idea’s lost its charm.

Introduce Paranormal Activity 4 then, and it’s got an uphill struggle to make any kind of impact. Perhaps some more twists? New and improved ways of making me jump? No? Just the same as before then is it? Let’s get started on the film’s biggest problem for me (and yes I’m a techie, sue me (please don’t)): who in their right mind walks around the house talking to someone on their laptop, IN THE DARK!! Most of the film’s dialog — in the early part anyway — takes place between teen girl Alex and her (boy)friend Ben primarily via web chat. Fine if you’re laying on your bed. Not fine if you’ve just been spooked by a weird noise and gone to check it out. You need those hands to turn on lights and stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why they did this — what kind of film would it be if the main actress kept disappearing for several minutes while we sit there staring at her empty bedroom only for her to return and announce “it was the cat” — not a scary film, that one. The problem is I just didn’t find it believable in the slightest and what chance does any horror film have if you can’t buy into the story ten minutes in? I suppose they wanted a different way of getting the “home video” footage effect without the now-too-familiar idea of “Hey, let’s set up some super-fancy-HD-night-vision-wireless cameras to find out what’s causing these strange noises”, then stop bothering to review the footage after the half-way point when the really weird stuff starts happening. That’s not how you get a decent return on your electronics investments folks.

It’s not just Alex’s webcam we get to invade either. Apparently her Mum (Holly) needs the laptop open to chop some onions on the kitchen counter. Yeah, me too, how weird is that! Most bizarrely of all though is the laptop in the boys’ (Wyatt and Robbie’s) bedroom — really no-one in the house thinks to turn it off or shut the screen?? Really? Okay I feel like my point is labouring as badly as this movie, let’s move on shall we…

Some positives… some positives… try to find something positive so it’s a balanced review…

I’d be lying if I said the film didn’t have any redeeming qualities — the XBox Kinect under night vision effect looks really cool, and is well-used at several points to reveal some spooky goodness, and there’s the bit in the bath where Wyatt almost drowns (finally a reason to be glad my bath is so small) — but these are few and far between. By the end I was glad to reach the obligatory zombified-person-shooting-towards-camera final scare sequence just so I could go back to watching old episodes of X-Files. Netflix, you really need to try it, it’s fab.

I gave my last movie review an out-of-ten score but perhaps it’d be more fun for horror films if I rated them using everyday items as metaphors to their scary-ness. This one gets a garden hose.

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Last modified: 01/11/2013