“Paranormal” series suffers but retains relevance

By Brian Duskey

October 23, 2012

[caption id="attachment_13137" align="alignnone" width="300"] "Paranormal Activity 4" is now in theaters and is rated R.[/caption] Like it or not, the film industry is primarily a business dependent on profit. So every once in a while, audiences will have to deal with some cheap-thrill money-makers. “Paranormal Activity 4” is the latest. As a critic, you dread films like these. Every generation has them, and the quality is usually pretty consistent: poor. Nonetheless, this industry is still a business, and any critic, filmmaker or actor would be doomed without projects like these. They may be cheap, unoriginal, and occasionally boring, but without these films, there would be a struggle for filling theaters. If you are not familiar with the “Paranormal Activity” series, they are pretty simple. Basically, you have your typical supernatural haunting story that surrounds a family inside the privacy of their own home, but the films are made using the “found-footage” style of filmmaking. The fourth installment deals with a preteen, Alex (Kathryn Newton), and a lot of the early moments in the story features her and her boyfriend from across the street. This actually is one of the few bright spots of the film because the relationship between them is rather entertaining. There is no need to get into the full-blown story of the film, because it is pretty irrelevant. The film is a tad different from the rest as it deals with this strange little kid who begins hanging around with Alex’s little brother and then they start to notice that he may be a tad demonic. No big deal. It deals with the same idea, the protagonist is being haunted by a demon within the household and so there is a lot of sudden movements and strange occurrences throughout to scare the viewers. There are very few moments within the film that are legitimately “scary” because the film is more of a tool than an actual narrative story. It mostly consists of still shots of the characters interacting and then a random jump-scare -- one of which was just a cat jumping on Alex’s computer, with a sharp jump in the music. The film does actually get pretty creepy and entertaining near the end of the film. There are some rather strange moments that can freak an audience out, but you really long for the entire film being that way. If the first three-fourths of the film had the feeling that the last 10 minutes did, it probably would of been one of the creepier and more jarring films in recent years -- but that isn’t the case. The two directors, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, obviously show they can scare an audience and can pull of a good cinematic experience in the horror sense, but this installment in the series is just a job for them, nothing that they particularly care about. The film is obviously made for the young high school crowd because of a lot of the random jumps and cheap “scares” within the film will work on them. There are moments of entertainment between Alex and her boyfriend that I mentioned before that make the film still slightly amusing, so this isn’t the worst sequel to a franchise an audience has seen. Again, it’s not the worst horror film ever but it really isn’t worth the time for anyone over the age of 16. It’s simply 1982 again and this is our “Season of the Witch.” Some artsy students today may hate the film and say how it is “ruining the industry,” but in reality, it is keeping it alive with its box office numbers. No need to spend nearly $10 on this film, but it wouldn’t be the most regrettable decision in your life, either. So, just like any demonic situation in life, enter at your own risk.