Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *

Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV  *
More Articles
Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Big Muddy Film Festival 33
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 23, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 30, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 19, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 26, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 5, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card July 8, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 12, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 26, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 5, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 16, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 2, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 23 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 25, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 30, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 4, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 1, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 15, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 16, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 2, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 23, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 9, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 12, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 13, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 26, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 12 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 12 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 19, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 26 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 16, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 21, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 23, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 28, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 30, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 7, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 9, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 1, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 22, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 29, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 8, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 10, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 12, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 17, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 24, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 26, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 3, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 5, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 11, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 18, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 4, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 06, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 11, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 14, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 18, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 21, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 28, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 4 , 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 7, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 01, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 13, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 15, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 20, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 22, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 27, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 29, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Sitter ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Thing **1/2
Silver Screen: The Three Stooges ***
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: The Vow **
Silver Screen: The Watch **
Silver Screen: The Woman in Black **
Silver Screen: The Words 1/2*
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2
Silver Screen: To Rome with Love ***1/2
Silver Screen: Total Recall **1/2
Silver Screen: Tower Heist ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Wanderlust ***1/2
Silver Screen: War Horse **
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: We Bought a Zoo ****
Silver Screen: Wrath of the Titans 1/2*
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Who needs an atomic clock when we have horror-movie sequels? If you need something to set your watch
Bryan Miller

Who needs an atomic clock when we have horror-movie sequels? If you need something to set your watch by, just use the convenient and predictable stream of scary-movie franchises rolling out their latest low-budget cash-in just in time for Halloween. Used to be you could mark the changing of the seasons with the release of the latest Saw. Now Saw is deposed, and the latest replacement for the sundial and Stonehenge is the inevitable new installment of Paranormal Activity. (Hey, it's better than the bad old days of Saw-- you can't say nothing has gotten better during the Obama administration.)

By this point, we all know pretty much what to expect when we're introduced to a pleasantly generic, white suburban family with a love of audio-visual equipment. This time around our haunted heroine is Alex (Kathryn Newton), an almost supernaturally well-behaved teen living with her mostly absent parents and adopted little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). A single mother with a strange little boy move in next door, the mother goes missing, and our friendly family decides, against what must certainly be every legal statute imaginable, to take in the spooky little boy, Robbie (Brady Allen).

It isn't long before things start going bump in the night, prompting Alex to wrangle her conveniently tech-savvy boyfriend (Matt Shively) to rig what seems to be the fifteen computers in their house to all constantly record video. They capture footage of Robbie wandering the house at night alone, whispering secrets to Wyatt, and also some strange sounds and shadows. When the wayward mom next door returns home, surprise surprise, it's Katie Featherston (played by the non-haunted Katie Featherston), and the incidents intensify.

The genius of the original Paranormal Activity was to render squeaking doors and swinging chandeliers genuinely terrifying at the apex of torture-porn cinema. Oren Peli's original bucked just about every trend imaginable, and in doing so conjured up a real sense of dread not seen in a horror movie in years.

But now the Paranormal Activity formula has become rigidly codified, and those creaky doors and loose chandelier chains have gone right back to seemingly, hopelessly antiquated. The tension that mounted in the original, when almost nothing happened but seemingly anything could, has been replaced by the tedium of waiting for the paranormal to get truly active. It was an hour into the original before something started to pull the sheets of Katie Featherston while she slept; half an hour into the fourth installment, some unseen force physically lifts Alex out of bed and levitates her. To say the effect is diminished would be an understatement.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the series is its stupefying insistence to stay with the Katie Featherston story when the real star of Paranormal Activity was the gimmick and the aesthetic. The particulars of the demon that haunted Katie and her sister weren't terribly unique or interesting. Yet rather than craft sequels that use the successful techniques but create new characters and mythologies that could pack some surprises, we're still dealing with Katie, who's not so much scary anymore as a pretty brunette actress who only appears on movie screens in October. Meanwhile, codirectors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman fail to come up with any nifty innovations like the fan-mounted camera in Part III-- their big idea here is to use the motion-capture lights from a Kinect to form creepy shapes in the dark. It's as lame as it sounds.

The closing-credits sequence, set in a botanica and spoken entirely in Spanish, at least promises some kind of potential change in the next one, though I'm not confident La Actividad del Fantasma will be any better. Time to give up the ghost.

Follow Bryan Miller on Twitter@bmillercomedy.