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Paranormal Activity 4

by Louise Adams
Tuesday Jan 29, 2013
Paranormal Activity 4

The creepy cyber-connected franchise is back for another outing in "Paranormal Activity 4."

When last we left our heroine, Aunt Katie, she had disappeared with young nephew Hunter. Five years later, we're in an unrelated well-to-do suburban household, focused on Skype-ing blonde teen Alex (Kathryn Newton), her requisite, destined-to-die horny boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively), her adopted brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovecamp), and a neighbor boy the same age, Robbie (Brady Allen), who, quelle surprise, begins acting strangely.

Good-looking, real-life couple Stephen Dunham and Alexondra Lee play the clueless parents. It's sad to note that Dunham died on his 48th birthday last September, making this his final film.

Horror homages populate the movie, from "The Shining's" ominous Big Wheel tour to a Sword of Damocles to a "Rosemary's Baby" exultation of devil children. The dialogue is pedestrian, with only one memorable line: "Fucking Prius," Alex mutters when she's almost hit by a silent car.

The series works on simplicity, showing mostly scenes of static laptop cameras catching an occasional flicker of something indeterminate. It's like a hidden-object online game, in which you have to survey the scene -- a kitchen, hallway or bedroom -- to discern what's out of place, what's moving. Or those lame computer pranks where somebody tells you to focus in on a bucolic scene ("No, look closer. Closer."), then a scary face pops up. It's effective in keeping eyes glued and pulses elevated, if nothing else.

The Blu-ray contains a 96-minute unrated version, the 87-minute theatrical version, plus 30 minutes of scenes listed as "The Recovered Files" and a terrifying overabundance of Mom jeans.

"Paranormal Activity 4"
Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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