Paranormal Activity 4 [Blu-Ray] Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost

Paranormal Activity 4 [Blu-Ray] Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost
5
Due to its comparatively lacklustre reception, Paranormal Activity 4 has gained an unfair reputation as a weak entry in the found-footage horror series. That perception is more likely due to overall viewer fatigue for a franchise slavishly tied to its formula than any specific shortcomings of the film itself. If you're concerned with the greater mystery of the demon-attracting Featherstone family and whether or not there's a master plan that will tie together the slender, convoluted plot threads, this movie doesn't make any assurances that it will all matter in the end than any of the others. A fulfilling narrative doesn't really factor into the methodology of the slow burning, jump scare-reliant series anyway, so why penalize it for doing its job, and doing it well? With expectations reasonably aligned, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's second turn sharing the director's seat is the most immediately entertaining and least annoying piece of the puzzle so far. Five years after the disappearance of Katie Featherstone and her sister's infant son, Hunter, the angry demon that goes bump in the night and likes to violently fling kitchenware resurfaces when a suburban family agrees to take in their new neighbour's little boy following her hospitalization. Who that little boy is doesn't seem like much of a secret, but the film has a few moderately clever tricks up its sleeves to keep know-it-all viewers on their toes. Chief among them is the unexpected weapon of comedy. Instead of just continuing to up the ante with increasingly elaborate camera gimmicks, which it also does with aplomb, introducing laptop camera surveillance and the spooky use of night vision Xbox tracking dots, Paranormal Activity 4 is more intentionally funny than any tired spoof could be. That's partly thanks to effective pacing that handily manipulates audience expectations, but more so, it's due to the realistic charms of, and chemistry between, teenage leads Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively, playing romantic duo Alex and Ben, who investigate the disturbances Alex's parents can't be bothered to take seriously. These two genuinely likeable actors also make "The Recovered Files," which would be labelled "deleted scenes" in any other film not so hell-bent on maintaining a suspension of disbelief, more enjoyable than any other bonuses that have been included in previous releases. Still, a block of random extra footage doesn't enhance the experience any more than the padded additions of the extended cut, which is also included. If you enjoy/are freaked out by the technique and conceit of the series, there's no reason not to have a good time with this fourth go-around, but it won't likely win any converts either. (Paramount)