‘Paranormal Activity 4’ is for diehard fans only, falls short in franchise

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By Dave Steele

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“Paranormal Activity 4” opens by recapping the final moments of “Paranormal Activity 2,” by replaying the abduction of Hunter by his demon-possessed aunt Katie.

Five years later, the whereabouts of Hunter and Katie are unknown.

Meanwhile, a family in Nevada is filming their son, Wyatt, playing a game of little league soccer. After the game, a strange boy named Robbie follows the family home and starts playing in their elaborate tree house.

Later that night, Wyatt’s big sister, Alex, and her friend, Ben, find Robbie standing alone in the house with the locked door wide open. Alex realizes that Robbie belongs to the family who just moved in across the street and walks him home.

A few days later, an unexplained event lands Robbie’s mother in the hospital and the family decides to take him in until she is released.

Night after night, Alex notices unexplainable sounds and movements within the house. In hopes of uncovering the source of the activity, Alex, with the help of her tech-savvy friend Ben, rig every computer in the house to constantly record via their Web chat cameras. After reviewing the footage, Alex and Ben realize that Robbie has invited a paranormal entity into their house.

This franchise is clearly running out of ideas. “Paranormal Activity 4” utilizes the minimal, yet hauntingly realistic, special effects that have brought so much success to the series.

However, the execution is a repetitive drag that teases viewers without adding a shred of fresh intrigue.

There is a lack of elaboration that makes this latest installment worthy of a straight-to-DVD release. No plot, just footage. Audiences will come to realize that this now guilty-pleasure-esque series would fair better in a Bravo timeslot after “Real Housewives” than on the silver screen.

It’s that bad.

Not “so bad it’s good,” just plain bad. It follows the same fatal approach that made the second film stick out like a sore thumb in the series. It wastes 90 percent of the movie dragging it’s feet “building up” to an indifferent ending that is carried out in a matter of seconds.

“Paranormal Activity 4” rides the coattails of the franchise’s captivating first and third installments and falls flat on its face in the process.

Luckily the chemistry of Ben (Matt Shively) and Alex (Kathryn Newton) is funny enough to fend off an 88-minute nap.

This film is definitely for diehard fans of the franchise. Unfortunately for them, this series has the consistency of a coin toss. If the trend continues, “Paranormal Activity 5” should be a hit.

1/5 stars