What I'm Watching: Paranormal Activity 4
Aww yeah, it's October, so it must be time for a new Saw mo...er, Paranormal Activity movie!
I remain in sheer awe at the level of quality this series has kept over four movies. Four movies that come out yearly, so have to have a quick turnaround rate.
Now, I saw they're all of high quality, but you know what I mean. These aren't mind blowing movies, they're not amazing, but they do what they do. And they DO IT WELL. Every year, I don't think they can do it again, but each movie keeps being good.
The third was a bit of a let down, but that was more because it felt like a distraction from the overarching storyline, not because it wasn't an entertaining movie in and of itself.
I love that every movie in this series has had its own language. The first had the handheld cams, the second brought in 24/7 security cameras. The third had to get creative with how to do this sort of movie in the 80s, and even then became innovative to the overall formula by bringing in panning cameras!
PA 4 ups the game once again, by bringing in the XBox Kinect. I let out a squee when I saw that in the trailers, because the Kinect's tracking dots, as seen through night vision, was a BRILLIANT idea, and I was SO SO pleased that they were going to be doing shit with those. So many of the things in this series are invisible to our eyes, and that's what makes many of the effects so, um, effective. We never see "Toby". He's this unseen malevolent force wreaking havoc. But...how will he interact with the Kinect?
And holy fuck, it was one of THE best scenes in any of the PA movies. In fact, this movie had some of the best scares in the entire run.
All the movies have kinda been poked fun at for having nothing much happen until the last five minutes, but this one had a LOT happening all throughout the movie. And worst of all, when you least expect it. We all know the bad stuff happens at night. We're safe during the day. We feel that way while watching the movies too, and each PA has played around with that notion to an extent. You have to, to be surprising. But PA 4 has SO many scares and jumps in broad daylight. Most of them, by my reckoning. And I love that. Totally breaks the rules, and you stop feeling safe AT ALL.
There were some problems though. I despised these weird time jumps the movie did. It was only two, three times, but they would have someone walk out a door, then there'd be a jump cut, without moving the camera or going to another one, when they were suddenly in the middle of the room. And with a loud BANG noise to boot. It was jarring, broke the language of their storytelling, broke the reality they were going for, and made me question if they were actually being somehow magically teleported, because of how sudden it was, being in camera, and the weird noises to boot.
The character of Ben annoyed me. The father was an almost non-existant character. The lead girl was great, and felt very natural in her surroundings. (Another problem, she was suddenly on sleeping pills? That was a bit out of nowhere. Sure, weird stuff was happening, but there hadn't been THAT much by that point, IIRC...) And the kid playing Robbie was appropriately creepy as all hell. And Katie Featherston is back in true form, after taking time off for PA3. Who'd have thought that this pretty, unassuming woman would be one of the bad-assest movie 'monsters' of my generation?
The story is satisfying, and they inch the overall narrative forward again, and while the scares were great, and the movie was fun, I think now that we are four movies in, things are starting to feel like we have to wrap this up soon. Even with each movie still being entertaining, I feel like this series is on the verge of overstaying its welcome. I really hope they can wrap things up very soon, and everything stays this high of a quality. I'd hate for the next movie or two being the ones that kill the series. Let's go out on a high! If this series goes past six movies, I think that will be just too much. Two trilogies worth of strong, spooky movies feels just about right.
I'm not sure where I rank PA 4 amongst the others. I definitely put it ahead of three, because it gets the story back on track, and the scares are great. But I still think I lean towards 1 or 2. Still, the fact that I am indecisive over what's best out of a series four movies old, says a lot.
If you're a fan of the series, you're gonna go watch it anyways. And you won't regret it.