[Screen It]


(2012) (Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton) (R)

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Horror-Thriller: A Nevada family is haunted by a demonic force soon after a mysterious single mother and her creepy son move in across the street.
Five years have passed since the possessed Aunt Katie (KATIE FEATHERSTON) abducted her nephew, Hunter, and disappeared. The story picks up in Henderson, Nev., where a suburban family of four goes about their daily routines. The parents (STEPHEN DUNHAM and ALEXONDRA LEE) are having relationship troubles, and their 15-year-old daughter, Alex (KATHRYN NEWTOWN), worries to her boyfriend, Ben (MATT SHIVELY), that they might get a divorce.

Mom and Dad are also oblivious to the growing threat a creepy neighbor boy named Robbie (BRADY ALLEN) poses to their adopted son, Wyatt (AIDEN LOVEKAMP). The family takes Robbie in when his mother is mysteriously taken to the hospital one night. Robbie immediately starts talking of an imaginary friend who doesn't like Ben and the others. At one point, he paints strange symbols on Wyatt. And he is prone to wandering the house at all hours of the night.

Alex is so freaked out by the recent strange activity that she has Ben set up Webcams throughout the house to monitor for ghost activity. Her fears are eventually confirmed when Robbie's mother reappears, and it is indeed evil Aunt Katie from the previous films eager to cause more death.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or in this case, very late the night before release) is that we'll only provide a couple of paragraphs about the film's artistic merits.

The "Paranormal Activity" flicks will never be mistaken for great art or great cinema. They're gimmick movies. And with the fourth entry in this series now upon us, the main gimmick -- a haunted house movie comprised entirely of footage from webcams and other recording devices inside the home -- is starting to wear thin. Yes, I wrote "starting." The franchise hasn't been drained of its effectiveness just yet. It's still one to see with your best buddy or a group of buddies or a brave and understanding date preferably on this opening weekend when the crowds will be the biggest and most receptive to its guilty pleasures.

Five years after the disappearance of the possessed Aunt Katie (Katie Featherston) and her baby nephew, Hunter, the story switches from Carlsbad, Calif., to Henderson, Nev. A family of four takes in Robbie (Brady Allen), the creepy little boy from across the street when his single mother is rushed to the hospital late one night. We assume Robbie and his unseen mom are Katie and Hunter from "Paranormal Activity 2." But all is not as it seems. Only the family's teenage daughter, Alex (Kathryn Newton), seems to notice and be concerned about all of the many things that have started to go bump in the night since Robbie's arrival.

There are a lot of bumps in the night, a lot of creaks, and a lot of things springing into the camera including the family cat. But it's still fun to watch a film comprised of completely stationary camera shots that force you to lean forward and search for what cheap scare is gonna come out at you next. And, yeah, I'm not ashamed to admit that this sequel will probably make me think for a night or two afterwards, "Uh, what was that sound? Kitty, is that you?" I rate "Paranormal Activity 4" a 6 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed October 18, 2012 / Posted October 19, 2012

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