Tuesday 20 March 2018

Paranormal high jinks are getting dull

Paul Whitington

Paranormal Activity 4 (15A, general release, 95 minutes) Director: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost Stars: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Brady Allen, Molly Ephraim


How long is a piece of string?

About four films long, as it turns out, and surely this must the last low-budget frightener to be wrung from the husk of Oren Peli's 2007 found footage hit.

So you'd think, but these efficient if rather repetitive horror films are made for next to nothing and do very nicely at the box office, so don't be too shocked if Peli and his collaborators decide to spin the series out for another couple of episodes.

In this fourth instalment, in any case, we are reintroduced to the character of Katie (Katie Featherston), the unfortunate young woman from the first film who was violently possessed by a very noisy demon.

In Paranormal Activity 2, Katie killed an entire family in order to kidnap a small boy called Hunter, and as this film opens she and the kid, who's now called Robbie, have just moved into an upscale suburban neighbourhood.

Which is bad news for the neighbours, and particularly Alice (Kathryn Newton), a lively teenage girl who's in the midst of a burgeoning romance with a chap called Alex (Matt Shively).

When not hanging out in her room, Alice and Alex are constantly either on the phone or cooing at each other on video link, and for its first 45 minutes or so Paranormal Activity 4 cleverly uses this technology to tell its otherwise predictable story.

Alice is initially amused when Robbie starts turning up in their house at all hours of the night, but less thrilled when she realises he seems to have brought a malevolent entity into their house.

We all know what's coming next, and while the film builds its tension well enough, the constant incremental bumps and happenings are getting pretty boring at this stage, and the film's explosive conclusion is jarring, and supremely daft.

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