Suburban teen Alex and her little brother Wyatt live in Henderson, Nevada with their mom and dad. One night, Alex and her boyfriend discover a young neighbor boy Robbie hiding in the tree house of their backyard. When Robbie’s mother falls ill, the family takes him in. Then creepy things start happening. For those who still care, Paranormal Activity 4 picks up several years after the events of PA2. (PA3 was a prequel to both the first and second films).
Story fatigue had already crept into this series well before this installment. Once again we are presented with lots of found footage from computer webcams. Shots of seemingly empty rooms, doors that close by themselves and loud bursts of noise following a period of silence. A couple jolted me awake. The script’s contribution this time is to introduce the camera from a Microsoft Kinect video game console with the infrared tracking dots bathing the room in an eerie green light. The outline of an unexplained figure is about as scary as this gets. The human star is Alex, a teen girl played by Kathryn Newton. She is an appealing presence and conveys the natural vibe of a real teen. The same goes for actor Matt Shively who plays her boyfriend Ben. They are understandably freaked out by the strange goings on while the rest of the family inexplicably dismiss flying knives and possessed children as nothing, natch. The Featherston sisters, Katie & Kristi, have historically been the focus of the supernatural activity in this franchise. Kristi appears only in flashback and Katie is relegated to a minor character. The drama isn’t advanced in any meaningful way. We’re merely left with more of the same parlor tricks you’ve seen in 3 installments before. Except this time they’re done with less enthusiasm. Despite the lackluster performance at the box office, PA5 is coming this October.