31 Days of Halloween-Day 21: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

Back in 2009, a little film called Paranormal Activity snuck into theaters. It was another in what has become a long line of cheaply made found footage flicks. However, it had something so many of the others didn’t have: a plot. Granted, it was a basic haunted house full of clichéd jump scares. But it worked. There seemed to be something more to the demon and we were getting little pieces of a potentially bigger puzzle. You had the appealing main characters, Micah and Katie, who seemed more like the couple next door than actors. It helped that we had never seen them before and that we were given a less than happy ending. We felt sorry for what happened to them. Okay, maybe not so much with Micah. On an estimated budget of $15,000, it went on to make more than $193 million. Can you say “success”? No surprise that a sequel was quickly put together that shifted the focus on other members of the family and continued to weave the background story. Paranormal Activity 2 had higher production costs with a bigger cast and more jump scares. However, it too went on to make more than $177 million. Last year, Paranormal Activity 3 gave us the background story to start filling in the gaps. With a bigger budget, it still went on to make more than $104 million. However, the trend is evident that as the production costs go up, the films are making less money. The originality of the first film now seems like it’s the same old same old. This time, it’s 2011 and five years after our primary character Katie killed her husband Micah and kidnapped her nephew Hunter. Enter a new family living across the street from Katie and a strange little boy named Robbie. We get the usual slow build-up of bumps in the night and denial from those who refuse to see the odd happenings in the house. The demon has apparently targeted a young boy named Wyatt. We then get an interesting plot-twist that I must admit, I didn’t see coming. The plot picks up on the coven storyline that was introduced in the last film. And like last time, things go crazy in the final moments. A sharp eye will notice that the papers covering the windows in the house are in Spanish. Not a throwaway plot point as there is one final scene after the credits that clearly sets up a fifth film.

Our only returning cast member is Katie, played by Katie Featherston. Despite a role in the short-lived series The River, what does this actress do with her time? She gets to show up once a year and walk around in a daze. But, she seems to have signed up long term for a nice cash cow. Paranormal Activity 4 is poised to make a huge amount of money. The movie looks to have made more than $30 million in its’ opening weekend despite being the lowest opening weekend for the series to date. But with a low budget, it is already another success even though the fans response is less favorable with each release. However, it should come as no surprise that Paramount Pictures have just announced Paranormal Activity 5 for next October. This series is a guilty pleasure of mine. However, there weren’t enough cheap jump scares this go-around. Or maybe I’ve come to expect them. It was fun for what it was but it lacked some originality. I’m game for the fifth film but I’d like to see some answers to why things are happening beyond some curse and a pact with a demon. There’s more to the story that we haven’t seen yet and I think it’s time to start revealing it. The coven seems to more than just witches. I guess we’ll all line up again next October to see what comes next. With any luck, we’ll also get a little more Katie Featherston in 2013 as well.

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