The Paranormal Activity movies are quite an achievement. I can think of only a handful of movie serials where every installment works as a whole movie but also adds to the mythology of the previous ones, not a single movie is a failure and each has it’s own voice. Harry Potter’s 8 installments would be the first one that springs to mind in regular movie genres but what of the horror genre? Can the same be said?
Lets take a look – Nightmare on Elm Street? No, part two was a dud and did not make sense within the framework of the original..
Halloween? Did you SEE part 3??
Friday the 13th? Increasingly one note and less believable as installments went on, not to mention the drop in quality.
Alien? Again, part 3 sucked.
No I think Paranormal Activity pretty much stands alone with this accomplishment, and for that I admire and respect it immensely.
The latest movie in the series is part 4, and follows on from part 2, after part 3 thoughtfully filled in some background information and managed to be the scariest installment of the lot.
In this one we are introduced to teenaged Alex, her boyfriend Ben, her mum and dad and young brother Wyatt.
A new family of a single mother and her creepy little boy have moved in across the street and then things start to get disturbing…
It’s not giving too much away to say that the mother is Katie from the previous films, that would be clear to anyone who has been following the ongoing storyline of these movies, but part 4 (though very slow-burning) does manage to pack in a small twist that I was surprised by.
The scares here are more subdued than the previous installments, though I’m unsure if this is bcause we know what to expect now to a certain extent. The audience I saw this with jumped and squealed at all the right places, following this with nervous laughter, which for me means that the horror element is effective, even though it is in shorter supply here.
The webcam and the use of the Kinect ‘dots’ worked well and gave a new dimension to the ‘found footage’ sub-genre, fuel to reinvent and expand, always a good thing for horror (which I believe is the only genre with it’s finger firmly on the pulse of our society).
The acing is as good as it needs to be, with a nice amiable turn from Matt Shively as boyfriend Ben the standout.
I have always appreciated that Paranormal Activity does not linger on it’s short bursts of violence, filming them almost matter-of-factly, and the restraint is both highly effective and respectable. The horror here (as with previous PA’s) builds until you are tense and ready to jump then unleashes one scare after another to arrive finally at a truly terrifying ending.
The lesser of the four (though with the others so good, that does not reflect too badly on this one), PA 4 is still a consistent, frightening movie that will leave you jumpy and satisfied.
Please note – As in part 3, almost nothing from the trailer is in the final movie, so don’t be waiting for the scenes you remember from it, they won’t happen.
Also, The cat is fine – no need to worry there.