All good, no spoilers here, the less you know the better. Unless you have a heart condition, go see this as soon as you can to avoid anyone ruining the erratic shocks in this very scary film. Prepare to be startled for breath in a paralysis of fear like I was during this innovative latest edition to the Paranormal Activity series.
Set some five years after the events of baby abduction at the end of part 2, the possessed Katie, again played by the eerie Katie Featherston, moves into a new unsuspecting neighborhood. A demonic presence makes itself known, resurrecting themes from earlier films; the intensity builds at a leisurely pace with the focus on 15 year old Alex and the weird new kid across the street. (There are a couple of adults around the place too, but more on them later.) Alex has seen the kid wandering at night, but now, her own family takes him in to their home as his surrogate mother is “away” for a while.
With the help of her boyfriend, Ben, a range of laptops and hidden cameras are positioned around the house to capture the kid roaming. Also, images from a camera phone as frantic hand held shots add to the vision, but it’s hard to tell you much more other than that.
It may pay to know the origins of the earlier films with their haunted themes and pagan history; however, some new tricks are guaranteed to make you squirm in fright. Creepy imaginary friend, Toby, is back; optical illusions may even give you a glimpse, unless your eyes are shut in terror.
Kathryn Newton is brilliant as Alex; her natural expressions say so much while running around freaking out in her own home. Her fear escalates along with the audience’s. Featherston’s stiff-walking Katie may just become as iconic as Freddy or Jason. I would imagine (probably only in my mind), she would be pretty easy to dress up as on Halloween too.
Parental units are insignificant really; mere patsy’s amongst the mayhem. Yes, furniture moves again. Of course, doors open and close on their own. Two highlights include a scene with a knife and an ingenious development concerning an XBox Kinect are fresh.
As with all these movies, some people may say that they’re crap and not frightening at all. And they may be right; gore is at a minimum. It’s what you “don’t see” that’s scary. Personally, all Paranormal Activity films make me sweat; I grab the cinema chairs, creating bursts of anxiety in anticipation of something that is going to happen.
With no music, just an ambient soundtrack of surrounding noises that can get loud and soft within a split second, the sudden thuds are what will keep you guessing. For retro horror film fans, references to The Shining, Poltergeist and even Christine are fun to spot.
If you’re still functional from the madness of the chilling finale, stick around after the end credits. There is a curious teaser sure to create discussion.
Paranormal Activity 4 hits theaters Friday, October 19th.
Shane A. Bassett is a contributor for TheYoungFolks.com. Read more about him on our Partners & Contributors page.