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Paranormal Activity 4(2012)
It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and a suburban family witness strange events in their neighborhood when a woman and a mysterious child move in.
For more about Paranormal Activity 4 and the Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray release, see Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 29, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writers: Christopher Landon, Chad Feehan
Starring: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Sprague Grayden, Stephen Dunham, Brian Boland
» See full cast & crew
Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray Review
New tricks, but not much of a treat.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 29, 2013
The filmmakers may as well start calling the Paranormal Activity films "Normal Activity." Now on its fourth installment, and well on its way to number five, the lucrative fan-favorite spook series has become a staple of Halloween time movie releasing, supplanting the recently-retired Saw franchise as the de facto dependable annual moneymaker and audience frightener. Not only do the films roll into the theaters just as the air chills, the leaves fall, and children decide which character they'll be for Halloween, they all recycle the same formula from one to the next, chucking originality out the window in favor of repetitive scenes and familiar scares that lead up to story advancement that more or less boils down to a couple of minutes of actual runtime, the rest of the film populated by cheap scares and tired tricks. Paranormal Activity 4 introduces a cool Xbox "night vision" mode that supplants the classic blue-tinted nighttime shot that's become a hallmark of the series, but this is otherwise the same movie with only different faces and a new house on the other side of the camera lens.
It's been five years since Katie (Katie Featherston) and baby Hunter vanished from Carlsbad, California. In Henderson, Nevada, the Nelson family is celebrating Halloween and notices a new family moving in next door. Young Alex (Kathryn Newton) is dating the camera-happy Ben (Matt Shively). When they sneak out to Alex's treehouse one evening, they find a young boy inside. His name is Robbie (Brady Allen), the new boy from next door. As the days pass, Robbie is seen hovering around the Nelson home until one day he's taken into the home on a temporary basis when his mother falls ill and lands in the hospital. Alex and Ben find the boy quirky, to say the least. Robbie quickly befriends Alex's younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) who learns that Robbie has an invisible friend. When they discover a few creepy oddities on one of Ben's recording -- including Robbie sneaking into Alex's bedroom to sleep with her -- they set up additional surveillance cameras in an effort to piece together the mystery that seems to be hovering around the awkward boy. What the find may very well be the death of them.
One might reasonably think that, if the "paranormal" really existed beyond Hollywood films and conspiracy theory websites, that footage would be commonplace considering a cell phone in every hand, a camera at every cash register, surveillance gear on every corner, and high tech drones and satellites capturing the details on a blade of grass from miles above. Either such things don't exist, or Paramount is scooping up all the footage and...the 'Paranormal Activity' films are really real! In all seriousness, that such footage isn't out there en masse seems proof enough to put a lid on the notion of the existence of the paranormal, but the really damning indication is the sheer repetitiveness of these films, an undesirable trait only Hollywood could make and sell so well (no way real ghosts would be this stuck in their ways). Whereas the first film was beautifully novel, the "sequel trap" hasn't been too kind to subsequent installments. Logic would seem to dictate that any industry pushing the same movie a few times over would lead to diminishing returns, but the third installment saw a spike in revenue that, in all fairness, wasn't matched by 4 despite pulling in around $140,000,000. That's big bucks, even by Hollywood standards, and considering that these movies cost a fraction of that to make and advertise, count on more and more of the apparitions, of these films-in-spirit-only drifting into theaters until, well, for quite a long time.
With that in mind, Paranormal Activity 4 is indeed nothing much different than any other film in the series, both spiritually and physically. It's a drag-down picture made of people living their everyday lives and, ever so slowly, their world begins to unravel. First, change comes innocently enough -- a new neighbor moves in, a young boy appears in a tree house, the same boy becomes an unexpected houseguest -- but slowly graduates to something more than creepy coincidence. Those creepy coincidences beget scary things beget outright fear and paranoia that begets very real risk to life and limb, all in the lead-up to the "startling" final moments in which the story takes shape, or at least the stage is set for the next installment which will rehash the same formula once again. It's a classic example of derivative and repetitive cinema; in the franchise and this film in particular, the scares come expectedly and predictably at just the right time, because it's the same movie with only the details of the gimmick shifted around to brand it as something new.
Paranormal Activity 4 does introduce a new "Xbox night vision" concept that looks cool at first, even looks cool the second time, but wears out its welcome when it's seen for the umpteenth time, even if one or two of those times it's used to pretty nifty effect. But it's just symbolic of the entire film and the franchise, really, being a whole lot of repetitive nothing that every once in a while throws a wrench into the works, but when audiences know the wrench is coming, well, it just doesn't hit quite so hard. The film also pays a few nice little compliments to Horror films of the past, but mostly it's just a wink and a nod to its own Paranormal Activity predecessors. Paranormal Activity 4 does create a fairly likable and relatable character in Alex; she follows the same general arc outlined above of normalcy to acknowledging the odd to fearing the unseen to cheating death to coming full circle and facing the fear head-on. The arc comes expectedly like clockwork, but young Kathryn Newton nevertheless convinces the audience of the growing turmoil playing out both around her and, more importantly, inside her, the terror rattling her bones and slowly frying her brain with fear. Most of the rest of the characters, sans the small children, prove largely unlikable and disappointingly stock.
Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the films are predictable, so too are their Blu-ray transfers. Paranormal Activity 4, like the others in the series, outputs a consumer-grade HD video picture. There's varying qualities at work here, from sharp, clean images from dedicated cameras to blocky, sloppy footage from a computer's built-in cam. Most of the film is comprised of that better footage; it's unremarkable but steady and does manage some nice highlights and natural details, seen on grasses, kitchen appliances, and odds and ends around Alex's and Wyatt's bedrooms. Colors aren't particularly impressive, but the general hues are presented nicely enough around the house and, in a few instances, outside of it, where green grasses and leaves, for instance, really shine. Nighttime blacks look washed out, and black crush is evident. Skin tones usually look a little ghastly, but never too seriously pale. These movies aren't made to look good; the lower-end picture quality is key to selling the notion of "found footage," and insofar as that goes, Paramount's transfer displays exactly what the filmmakers intended.
Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Paranormal Activity 4's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack doesn't really kick in with the truly aggressive bass and multichannel elements until the end. The lead up is rather sonically dull, with a good, steady low-end pulse that runs through some early scenes but that otherwise proves rather tame until the scares become more and more frequent. There's some minor directional activity in the early acts but nothing much of note. Dialogue plays clearly enough from the front-center portion of the stage, whether sourced from the primary camera microphone or secondhand through computer speakers. There's a very good spread of deep sonic information starting in chapter thirteen, and the track kicks itself alive from there on through to the end, utilizing heavy bass and plenty of distinct surround information to nicely envelop the listener into the building mayhem.
Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Paranormal Activity 4 contains only The Recovered Files (HD, 28:56), a collection of deleted scenes in the guise of additional "found footage." DVD and UV digital copies are also included.
Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If it were novel, it wouldn't be a Paranormal Activity sequel. Paranormal Activity 4 rehashes the same formula as its predecessors. Sure it places new faces in front of the camera and shakes up the classic "blue" night vision with "green" night vision but otherwise pulls the same stunts and spends a whole lot of time to do little to advance the core Paranormal Activity story. Hardcore fans will probably enjoy this installment, but those growing weary of the series' antics might want to leave it be; there just aren't enough redeeming qualities here to warrant a watch. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Paranormal Activity 4 delivers series-general video and a pretty aggressive soundtrack. As usual, supplements are slim for this series. Fans can buy with confidence, others are encouraged to skip.
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Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: January 29-February 5 - January 27, 2013
For the week of January 29th, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment brings Paranormal Activity 4 to Blu-ray. Since the release of the first Paranormal Activity in 2009, the franchise has cemented its position as horror cinema's most dependable fright distributor, ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Paranormal Activity 4 - January 24, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's Paranormal Activity 4, starring Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively Aiden Lovekamp and Brady Allen. The fourth entry ...
• Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray - December 17, 2012
Paramount Pictures has detailed its upcoming combo pack release of directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's Paranormal Activity 4 (2012), starring Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton and Stephen Dunham. The release will be available for purchase on January 29t ...
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