“I think I’m getting in a lil deep with this whole #rothtober thing. Last night, I dreamt I was an extra in a Cannibal Holocaust-esque movie starring and directed by Eli Roth. There were some other details that I’ll keep to myself, but I’ll just say it’s a good thing I’m giving my psyche a break from that project today. Well, a break from the project, not from the horror genre.
I’ve been following the Paranormal Activity franchise since the beginning. The promotion behind the first one was just so incredibly effective. Remember? It was such an underground, indie film that it was only playing in a few select markets. The trailer went viral, with the command to “”demand it”” to get it to play in more towns. Boston was in the second group to get the movie. What grabbed me about that trailer was that most of it was based on audience reaction. You saw just enough shots of the film to get an idea of what it was about, but it was seeing such a strong response that really had me intrigued.
And thankfully, that first film really did deliver. Such an incredibly effective horror film, with really low tech effects. I’m very much an advocate for low tech, and this is a prime example of why. The film took off, so a sequel was released the following year. Paranormal Activity 2 enhanced the story of the first. The scope was bigger, but the same kinda found footage hidden camera strategy, and it filled out a lot of the story details that were missing. Last year came Paranormal Activity 3, which tried to give you some of the backstory, though it kinda didn’t really. It was just more of the same formula, just in the 80s. Now here we are with Paranormal Activity 4, which tells us what happened a few years down the line.
Still, we’ve got more of the same strategy. Weird things start happening. Concerned family member sets up hidden cameras to record things while they sleep. Weird things get weirder. The impetus this time around is that the weird little boy from across the street is gonna be staying with our leading family for a few days. The kid brings the weird. Our leading lady, being a tech savvy high schooler, sets up laptops all around the house recording everything. One nice addition was that they had a Kinect set up in the living room, which projects infrared lasers that can be seen by the laptop in nightvision. So same basic idea of how you can put down powder to see footprints of an invisible being, you could see the shape of one moving around.
The reason these movies have been sticking around is because the team is good at what they do. They know how to build suspense, as you stare into the corners of the screen waiting for some sudden inexplicable movement. There were audible screams in the auditorium a few times. However, this one is just not as memorable as its predecessors. The first movie was so groundbreaking, and this one is just more repetition. Effective, and better than a lot of what passes for horror nowadays, but not a very necessary addition to the franchise. It also gets frustrating in that by the time you get to the end, you end up getting even more questions asked than ever get answered. Yes, it was cool to see what happens a few years later, but I’m not convinced we really needed to know.
Paranormal Activity 4 – \m/ \m/ \m/