Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment
In 2007 we discovered a little movie called Paranormal Activity which was set to make its premiere at the annual Los Angeles Screamfest event. Since our initial viewing of the original film we sang its praises from the rooftops before anyone, including Paramount, had any idea what it was. Once it was discovered by the studios Paramount saw the genius in the film. They got it. Since then they’ve done an incredible job with this franchise helping its creators build one hell of a rich mythology over the course of several films. To everyone’s surprise these sequels were good. Hell, Paranormal Activity 3 may just be the best in the entire franchise. That’s why we were ecstatic when it was announced that Part 3 directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, were coming back for Part 4. Could lightning strike an unprecedented fourth time? The short answer is no, but before we get into all of that let’s recap the story a bit.
Paranormal Activity 2 ended with Katie abducting her nephew Hunter from her sister Kristi and disappearing into the night. Paranormal Activity 3 shed no light on Katie and Hunter’s whereabouts, but it did introduce one hell of a backstory for the characters of Katie and Kristi ending in a shocking reveal of witchery which left fans rattled and wanting more. A year passed and finally Paranormal Activity 4 was here. There was just one problem… it didn’t advance the story at all. All it succeeded in doing was raising more questions that were piled on to the ones we already had lingering. Sure we finally catch up with Katie and Hunter but that’s kind of where the advancement begins and ends. There’s just no pay off and even the scares come off as kind of weathered. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good bits here and there, but for the most part there’s nothing we haven’t seen before and certainly nothing that comes close to the jaw dropping moment from Part 3 in which the kitchen dropped. Another problem with the movie which sets it apart from everything that has come before it is that fact that the main character of Alex (Newton) is seemingly filming things for no apparent reason. Believable or not, there was always a reason for the cameras to be rolling in the first three films, whereas here Alex even has her camera running while in the car with her dad, etc. It just doesn’t add up and takes away from the immersion of the experience that these movies are known and loved for.
I was hopeful that the unrated cut of the film could fill in some of these blanks or at least offer some type of explanations as to why certain things were happening, but they never came. That being said this newer cut is much better than what was released in theatres as its extra ten-minutes is home to some great character moments and even a couple of really well timed scares. Just nothing like we were hoping for.
In terms of Blu-ray / DVD quality, both are pretty comparable in terms of sound and picture. Each package is home to both cuts of the film – rated and unrated. Strangely enough, the Easter Egg scene alluding to the Latino Paranormal Activity spin-off that was seen after the credits in theatres has been removed from both cuts here. No idea why, but you know Paramount, they always have something cool up their sleeves.
In terms of bonus features the DVD is bare bones. The Blu-ray however is sporting something called “The Recovered Files” which is basically around a half an hour of deleted scenes strung together and definitely worth a watch if only for curiosity’s sake.
If I were rating the theatrical cut of the film on its own, there’s no question it would get a two out of five in terms of a rating. This new cut fares slightly better and feels like more of a complete experience, but most of the problems of the theatrical cut are still present and accounted for. One thing is for certain… with Paranormal Activity 5 the folks behind these flicks need to get this train back on its tracks. Questions have to be answered. Antes have to be upped. We’re four films in and it’s time to take off the gloves.
2 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5