Movie review: “Paranormal Activity 4”

Earning $29 million in the box office during its opening day weekend, “Paranormal Activity 4” is a must-see movie and a great way to wrap up the Halloween season —  even though it starts off quite slowly. Filmed by a laptop camera, it has a unique feel and brings the movie into the 21st century.

The plot begins with a recap from “Paranormal Activity 2”, and then cuts to five years after the vanishing of Katie and her infant nephew Hunter.

It takes place in a Nevada suburb with 15-year-old Alex; her parents — who are on the verge of divorce; her boyfriend, Ben; and her adopted younger brother, Wyatt. When the family is forced to take in their neighbor’s troubled little boy, Robbie, due to an unfortunate health issue with his mother, strange events start to occur in their home. Knives go missing, children have conversations with vacant rooms, and shadows run through hallways.

Frightened, Alex asks Ben to set up laptops around the house. Captured from all angles, the audience now can see what happens each night, including the couple’s video chats.

The first 60 minutes of the movie leave much to be desired. There are some small jumps and scares, but it’s very slow, mainly focused on loud noises in the middle of the night. The audience might as well go to sleep; the cameras only show an empty house and the occasional blur that might be a ghost. This part of the film was nothing less than boring — a great opportunity for a popcorn break.

It’s not until Robbie’s mother returns that the film goes from scary to terrifying. I was on the edge of my seat and not letting go of the armrests. Here is where the acting started to impress me — especially Alex, played by Kathryn Newton. When she screamed, I cringed. The dialogue was so realistic between characters that it made the movie more believable; I was easily able to imagine myself saying something similar in each situation. There could’ve been more music to amp up the suspense, though I think it was just fine without it.

In the end, events get gruesome. I was close to taking a nap for much of the film’s start, but the last 30 minutes certainly woke me up.  I was  jumping out of my seat, wondering what freaky thing would happen next.

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