Horror franchises know how to exhaust an idea like no other genre. Whether it’s Saw with 6 sequels, Friday the 13th with 11 sequels/remakes/spin-offs, or Halloween with 9, it’s easy to see how people might get tired of seeing the same thing movie after movie. The newest series to enter into these dreaded waters is Paranormal Activity. With the release of Paranormal Activity 4 the series is showing its age and wearing thinner than bed sheet ghost costume.
When the original Paranormal Activity came out audiences were terrified with the inventive found footage film. With each of the subsequent films the mythology has grown. Along with the mythology, the films have been fun while offering some good scares. Now in its fourth year, the series has hit a road block. This time, the film deals with a family who take in a mysterious boy after his mother is hospitalized and strange things start happening.
This entry has even less plot than the previous films in the series, none of which ever really had that much plot. With a new family introduced here there isn’t much that can be done into add to the mythology of the series. In fact, at times this one goes straight in the face of what had previously been learned. By the time you get to the fourth entry in a horror series, can you name one that hasn’t contradicted itself?
More importantly, PA4 is just plain boring. The luster is off the series. The novelty is gone from the found footage abilities that the series has creatively woven into its storytelling. Furthermore, the formula of the films has worn thin. By now everyone knows there is going to be a slow build leading to a final few minutes that cause more teenage girls to scream than finding out Justin Bieber has herpes. Whereas the other films had some scares, this one isn’t able to conjure any up.
One of the things that the series has had above other found footage films is the acting. Paranormal Activity hires people who could be real actors. Actress Kathryn Newton is at the start of a promising career. She offers a character that allows the audience to get behind her, which is rare in these films.
If Paramount is smart they would make the next film the finale to the series. In making the next film the finale one, the producers would have to offer answers to many of the series questions. They could really throw audiences for a loop by going outside of the found footage format. The series has reached the point where there isn’t much activity to put you on the edge of your seats.