IN THE SPIRIT? Paranormal Activity 4 will look pretty familiar to fans, but the scares aren't quite there
Credit: Dean Hendler

Suburban teen Alex (Kathryn Newton) gets increasingly freaked out as her little brother (Aiden Lovekamp) cozies up to his weirdo neighbor (Brady Allen), who says he has an invisible ”friend.” It’s a new house with a new family in it, but everything else in Paranormal Activity 4 will look pretty familiar to fans who come for the series’ signature trick of sneaking haunted-house scares into the background of ”surveillance” footage. This time the recording is done with new gadgets like smartphones and the infrared camera of a Microsoft Kinect video game console, but the goal is still the same: scaring you witless with anticipation. And by that standard, PA4 pales in comparison to the original trilogy. Writer-directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (Catfish, PA3) have their heads too far in the franchise’s mythology, which concerns a woman named Katie (Paranormal Activity‘s Katie Featherstone) who seems to be linked to a demonic spirit. PA4 develops the story ever so slightly (not enough to satisfy fans) and delivers a few good scares (not enough to satisfy newbies); mostly, it plays like a overlong prologue for the already-in-the-works PA5. Here’s hoping this is just the tension-racking lull before the next big scream. C-Adam Markovitz

Paranormal Activity 4
  • Movie
  • 95 minutes