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‘Paranormal Activity 4:’ Jump-Scares and Product Placement [REVIEW]

"Paranormal Activity 4" Poster
Paramount Pictures & Room 101

First of all, thank you for helping me decide which movie to see over the weekend!  Voting ended in a three-way tie; so, after a very complex tie-breaking process (eenie-meenie-mienie-moe), a decision was finally made.  Here’s what I thought of Paranormal Activity 4.

Let me first say that I loved the previous installments of this franchise.  I found them all equally scary, as well as compelling.  A lot of people try to make movies in the same “found footage” style of the “Paranormal” series, but very few (if any) of them do it as well. Bottom line, though: they probably should have retired this concept when it was just a trilogy.

Paranormal Activity 4 takes place six years after the events of the second movie (the third one was a prequel).  Now a new family in a new state is being terrorized by a demon, in the same gradually escalating fashion as the previous films.  I actually really like this formula, and I always have.  What starts as little instances of strange noises and doors opening by themselves, gradually becomes people being ripped from their beds and tossed about by something nobody can see; and that is genuinely scary, just like it’s supposed to be.

But one of my biggest issues with this fourth installment is that it sells itself out, in a painfully obvious way.  Not more than fifteen minutes into the movie, there’s a scene of everyone playing video games on an Xbox Kinect; and for the rest of the movie, the Xbox is heavily featured in at least every third shot.  In some cases, it’s used well; but in the rest, it only serves as blatant product placement.  That, combined with the fact that everyone in this family (including the seven-year-old son) has a fancy Apple laptop, makes it obvious where a lot of this movie’s funding came from.

This movie is also full of plot holes.  I can think of at least two off the top of my head.  While it could be argued that not knowing every detail adds to the realism and suspense, I found it to be downright lazy.

Overall, Paranormal Activity 4 was good, but not amazing.  The product placement was distracting, and the storytelling left some to be desired; but it still scared me.  A lot.  (Seriously, my fiance was chuckling at how scared I was, especially toward the end.)  And that’s what a good horror movie is supposed to do, right?  I’d still put it above a lot of other horror movies out there, but it’s definitely not up to the same standard as the other ones in the series.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

Have you seen this movie?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments below!

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