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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Paranormal Activity 4

March 17th, 2013

Paranormal Activity 4 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

Paranormal Activity has become the annual Halloween tradition, but there is reason to believe the moviegoing public is growing tired of the franchise. Paranormal Activity 4 made barely more in total than Paranormal Activity 3 earned during its opening weekend. (That said, Paranormal Activity 5 is already in the works, so the studio is still happy). Was the drop in box office numbers just a result franchise fatigue? Or was there a reason people aren't showing up anymore?

The Movie

The movie begins in Carlsbad, California in September 2006 during happier times with Katie spending time with her family, including her nephew, Hunter, before we are given a titlecard telling us Hunter was abducted just a month later and after we see Katie take him, we are told their whereabouts are still unknown.

Flash forward six years to Henderson, Nevada. It's Halloween and Alex Nelson is Trick or Treating with her little brother, Wyatt, while being filmed by her boyfriend, Ben. As they are walking around the neighborhood, they see they have new neighbors, but the young boy is too shy to talk to them. When they get home, we meet her mother, Holly, and her father, Doug.

A few days later, Alex and Ben go out to her backyard where they have a treehouse. While checking it out, they see Robbie, the new neighbor's young kid. The next day, Robbie's mother falls ill, so he stays with the Nelsons. Robbie's a little weird and talks about having an invisible friend. He even crawls into Alex's bed while she's asleep. Robbie has to stay there a few more days, and weird things start to happen to the point where Alex thinks there's something supernatural at work. Of course her parents don't believe her, but she and Ben continue to research what is going on.

After about a week, Robbie's mother is finally well enough to come back from the hospital and Robbie goes home. This is where we finally meet his mother, and it turns out it's Katie! Dun dun dun...

I've reviewed the previous movies and at this point the feeling of deja vu is just too much. There are some new elements to the movie, including the new family and the Kinect shots are interesting. However, nearly everything else is borrowed from the other films. There's long shots of nothing, a few weird events, and people trying to figure out what's going on. If you are really into this franchise, then you will probably like this installment just as much as the other sequels. If you feel the sequels were a case study in declining returns, then you might think this is the weakest of the group. I wouldn't be surprised if many hit the fast forward button to speed through much of the movie.

The Extras

Like last time, there are no extras on the DVD. The Blu-ray has the extended edition, which is ten minutes longer, and almost 30 minutes of deleted scenes. Also like last time, the audio and video are subpar for Blu-ray, especially the video. However, that's a necessity based on the plot of the movie. It has to look and sound like it was filmed by the characters themselves using consumer level cameras. The Blu-ray costs $5 or 25% more than the DVD, and it includes the DVD, which is a good deal.

The Verdict

The Paranormal Activity franchise is either in a rut, or is very reliable, depending on your point of view and Paranormal Activity 4 is very much like the previous films. Considering these films rely on tension and suspense, being reliable is not a good thing. The DVD has no extras and is worth a rental and absolutely nothing more. The Blu-ray Combo Pack is a better deal if you are intent on buying, but I think the replay value here is at the rental level regardless of the extras.

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Filed under: Video Review, Paranormal Activity 4, Paranormal Activity, Stephen Dunham, Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Aiden Lovecamp, Brady Allen, Alexondra Lee