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Quint checks out the work-in-progress cut of Paranormal Activity 4 at Fantastic Fest and...

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some quick thoughts on the latest Paranormal Activity flick.



On the whole I’m fairly indifferent on the Paranormal series. I dug the first one as a fun indie gimmick, don’t remember much about the second film and actually really liked the last one because of where it goes in its final act.

While I think the gimmick has been played out, I respect that this series gets its scares from tension building instead of elaborate torture porn traps or repetitive gore. Not many long-lasting horror franchises can get away with that.

Unfortunately, Paranormal Activity 4 isn’t as concerned with adding to the mythology of the series as the last film was, which really hurts it, especially in the last act.

I should mention that the cut of Paranormal Activity 4 that was screened at Fantastic Fest was a work-in-progress cut, but since we’re 3 weeks away from release and one of the two directors mentioned that the other was currently mixing the sound I’m going to assume that the cut is pretty much locked.

The effects looked rough, I will say that much… and that didn’t help some of the tension building because when I saw an actor roughly composited into a shot that tipped me off that an effect was coming up, so the usual surprise oh-my-god-she-was-just-pulled-off-the-bed or holy-shit-the-ghost-just-threw-her-into-a-wall moments weren’t as effective as they probably will be in the final cut.



So, I won’t fault the movie for that, but I didn’t have much problem with the individual sequences anyway. They do some interesting things with creepy kids, an Xbox Kinect, a kitchen knife and a bathtub and I must also give them credit for shying away from slamming door jump scares and actually winking at the type of horror this is by having a cat cause one of the bigger jump scares in the movie.

The issues I have with the movie mostly surround a lack of purpose. The third film built up to a crazy weird cult thing and this one seems to laze around a bit, going through the motions until it reaches its rather limp finale, which sadly is just a retread of part 3.

In an odd way this film has the most likeable protagonists in teenagers Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively. These two are really good together. It’d be kind of like if Pretty In Pink met Poltergeist because they totally have an Andie/Duckie relationship, but aren’t really together. I say it’s odd because for being the most water-treadingest of the sequels I really liked the characters, so I should have cared more about what happened to them, but the formula of the series is so predictable now that I knew if any hard shit went down it wasn’t going to go down until the end of the movie.

And I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. I have a feeling this one is going to be looked on as the moment the Paranormal films lost their audience, which is a shame because like I said the gags are well-staged and the actors are all good, but it’s wearing out its welcome as a formula.

Not only that, but Katie Featherston is really trying to become the Jigsaw of this series and she’s just not scary or intimidating until she goes all demon-face, but that’s, like, 1% of her screentime.

The series has always been repetitive, but now it’s getting predictable, which is a deadly combination for a franchise. I hope the next one will recover from this stumble by really taking it to the next level. I think I can speak for a great deal of horror fans out there when I say we’re ready for shit to get really crazy in this universe.

-Eric Vespe
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Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 29, 2012, 1:52 a.m. CST


    by Loosejerk

    Who gives a FUCK!

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 2:42 a.m. CST

    first was great, second was okay, third was meh

    by georgecauldron

    kill this series with fire

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 2:55 a.m. CST

    Katie Featherston has giant fantastic tits and a pretty face

    by darthpigman

  • That really pissed me off about 3. Go back and watch a few of the trailers and commercials. 80% of shit thats in the trailers werent in the flick, which sucks because they looks like interesting tidbits. The house going up in flames? A couple of unseen scares? Then again, they might have thrown all that shit on the DVD on an extended cut or something. I paid to see it in theatres, and thats all my money they were going to get.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 3:54 a.m. CST

    Producers of horror franchises always make that mistake -

    by V'Shael

    at some point, they think the script and plot just aren't that important anymore. And that's when it all goes to shit.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 9:42 a.m. CST

    LOVE the first one

    by eveelcapitalist

    Just a good solid scary feckin' movie. It's a ghost, the ghost is haunting this couple and it gets more and more terrible. Awesome sauce. Classic horror movie. The second one is pretty good. A few good scares, a good plot. Ending is totally Hollywood, though. Third one stepped it back up. Good scares, they vary up the scenery...the ending I wasn't too sweet on, but that was just me. Very "The Last Exorcism". And the demon became too...real, for lack of a better term. Overall, though, I dug it better than part two. This one...well, I think we all knew PA4 was gonna be "meh" no matter what. It's likely that I'll still see it because I've seen them all up to now so why not? Buying it? Dunno. We'll see.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Oddly, -huge- fan of the third

    by Nintendarth

    I think the third film, taken on its own, is terrifyingly scary, with Toby be-friend-ing the sisters and the constant threat of his violence against them and the rest of the family being a huge source of tension. The element of the cult in the finale, that humans are the more dangerous opponents and the demon is just a tool, is also effective, because the faces of the cultists staring down the camera unafraid indicates the entire time they know their prey is doomed and don't worry about being seen. If you view it as its own movie, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 really is pretty damn scary and intense. I think people judge it by the first two and it suffers as a result because it's going for a different kind of scare. There are jump scares, but I think 3 really pushes for this uneasy feeling that's designed to make you feel queasy and nervous, and for me it totally succeds at creating its evil atmosphere.

  • Look, I loved all three films and I'm looking forward to this. You didn't really say what happened in this film, except that you said it was a retread. I know that some stories in a series sometimes repeat the ending of the last story, but that doesn't mean that it is the same. Guys like you have said the same shit about all the films, yet I'm still enjoying them, so somethings gotta give, and I think it's you. I don't know if this is the last film or night, but if it isn't, well... I'm ok with that. I don't want them to make twenty of these films, but I think the series can go a little further, than say the Dark Knight Rises or something. Well, people?

  • Demon Ghost tension to the fiftieth maximum

  • Sept. 30, 2012, 7:44 a.m. CST

    Up to now, the movies are uneven but overall good

    by m_prevette

    I loved how instead of another retread sequel, there was an actual attempt to build a "mythology", with the 2nd film folding back into the first movie in some creative ways. The 3rd film worked out OK, but yeah the apparent substantial footage not used in the final cut would have enhanced the thread running through all the movies. I much prefer the first 3 to the Saw franchise or even Friday The 13th or Elm Street.

  • Oct. 1, 2012, 11:31 a.m. CST


    by FannyPad

    PA 1 = 8/10 PA 2 = 5/10 PA 3 = 8/10