I've talked many times about the Paranormal Activity movie series, and how much "we" (probably better defined as my daughter and I) like it. There is something incredibly creepy about watching, voyeur-style, through various forms of footage, a presence that plagues one family over decades.
In the first PA (2007), the stage is set, and we see through the lens of a night-vision video camera (set up when weird things started happening), the strange occurrences that transpire at night to a young woman (Katie) and her live-in boyfriend. PA2 (2010) goes back in time by only a few weeks, and we see the presence in Katie's sister Kristi's home through the eye of security cameras. PA3 (2011) travels back more than twenty years to when Katie and Kristi were small, and explores the genesis of the curse that has followed them through their lives, all seen through cameras placed throughout their home. Contrary to popular belief with a series, these movies get scarier and scarier with each one.
In PA4, we are actually moving forward in time, five years after the events of PA1 have taken place. (I know, there is a lot of jumping around!) Kristi's son Hunter has been adopted by a family consisting of a mother, father and teenage daughter Alex. A new neighbor moves in across the street - a single mother and a strange little boy Robbie. Robbie, completely unsupervised, starts hanging around Alex and her family, and talking to imaginary friends. (Bad sign. Never welcome a creepy kid with imaginary friends into your home.) Weird things start to happen. Alex and her boyfriend set up computers around the house to record footage at night.
With each movie, the directors get more and more creative with how the presence infests it's target victims. Most of it is subtle, but still will make the hair stand up on your neck. On one of the computer's footage, set up in the living room, the presence sets off the family Kinect and its infrared tracking dots. In the dark, these glowing little green lights allow us to see another figure roaming around. Maybe the imaginary friend? Knives fall from the sky. And there is still that messing around with people in their sleep.
Some say the franchise is getting old. Perhaps it is. But the people funding this venture, whoever they are, will be riding this wave until it reaches shore. It has to be one of the most lucrative franchises from a profit standpoint, since the films themselves are made on a shoestring budget and are substantially successful at the box office (this movie, for example, cost $5M to make and has grossed $120M worldwide so far). So more power to them.
For those that seek a scare, there is something oddly attractive about these films because of their voyeuristic nature. You are peeking inside the homes and lives of people. You see them interact, fight, laugh in their day-to-day tedium. They are all fairly likable people, THEN THEY DIE!!! Or at least some of them. I'm not going to divulge who escapes harm. The people writing the screenplays are not afraid, though, to throw even the sweetest character under the bus.
So call it trash. My daughter was not fond of this one, hard-core critic that she is. But I'll keep seeing them as long as they make them.
4 out of 5 stars