Critics, moviegoers say Paranormal Activity 4 may lack originality in plot

A bright light reveals a room full of witches that proceed to kill all surviving family members of sisters Katie and Kristi Featherston. This is where Paranomal Activity 3 left off, and the fourth installment should have begun.

Instead, Paranormal Activity 4 captures the story of a teenage girl’s family and more than one odd houseguest that leaves audiences with white knuckles and multiple nightmare-evoking images.

In the latest scary sequel, iPhones and webcams tell the story of the family’s neighbor, Robbie. After his mother suffers a mysterious illness, he stays with the family for several days. Upon his arrival, strange things begin happening in the house.

The protagonist and her boyfriend decide to film all of Robbie’s strange behaviors, not to mention the fact that he wears long socks with Velcro sandals. That should have been a clue from the beginning that something was just not right.

Upon playing back footage of the house at night, the Nevada family begins to realize something unseen is haunting the home and possibly the youngest member of the bunch, Wyatt.

Keeping with Paranormal style, things begin to go bump in the night. A tricycle moves on its own, a knife lodges itself in the ceiling and more than one door creaks open.

But what about Katie, Kristi and who the entity is after: Hunter?

The previously possessed character of Katie has driven the plot of all of the previous films, and she makes more than one surprise visit in the newest ghostly thriller. Even with the disquieting movements and creepy noises, the audience finds no real attachment to the characters. Though the previous overlapping plot is revisited, the new family is random and not thought-out.

Viewers are drawn in only by the cuteness of the two boys, Robbie and Wyatt. That in itself is not enough to save the monotonous story line because, frankly, the kids become creepy.

Further subtracting from the luster of the movie, the film lacks significant supernatural elements and resorts to cliché scream-inducing devices. The house cat becomes quite startling in the dark, as does the protagonist’s oblivious boyfriend. With a title like Paranormal Activity, viewers expect more.

When it comes down to it, the movie contains more fake scares than real ones, much like its predecessors.

Though its flaws are many, PA4’s fatal mistake rests in the unoriginal plot that perfectly mirrors that of the third movie.

Because the only redeeming moments occur in the last 15 minutes of screen time, the audience has to sit through a tedious hour before the action occurs.

Repetitive? Yes. Original? Not quite.

Despite its flaws, audiences will probably leave speechless, sleepless and more than a tad bit jumpy.

Moral of this story? Don’t trust people who wear socks with their sandals.

Author: Katelyn Holm

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