Friday Flicks: Does the World Really Need a Paranormal Activity 4?

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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Paranormal Activity 4


Tagline: It’s Closer Than You Think

The tagline for Paranormal Activity 4 seems more like a comment on the end of this interminable U.S. election campaign than the marketing slogan for one of the best known modern-day horror franchises. But politics aren’t on the agenda. Instead, can it really be a year since Paranormal Activity 3 arrived on our screens, trying its best to scare the bejesus out of us? Apparently so, and whether you’re a fan or not of the franchise, you have to admire the efficiency with which they crank out each installment. And the fact that Halloween is nearly upon us must just be a convenient coincidence, right?

Once again, we’re in the well-worn realm of found footage as directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) go with their “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” policy. The plot concerns evil Katie — who should indeed concern us, as she’s done some very bad things in past films — and who is now attempting a fresh start with her young son. But before you’ve even had a chance to settle in to episode four, Katie’s new neighbors are on the receiving end of those disturbing developments which the Paranormal series specializes in.

The reviews aren’t exactly going to frighten the other new movies competing for your attention but there is a sense that it’s not quite as bad as it could have been (which is hardly a ringing endorsement). “Is there still to fun to be squeezed out of this concept?” asks FEARnet. “Paranormal Activity 4 asserts that there is, and while I would agree (to a point), there’s no denying that we’ve reached the “established fans only” stage of this particular horror franchise.” IGN Movies is more positive: “The film does deliver on scares, and at a time when so few Hollywood horrors succeed on that front, we should grateful for the consistency of the Paranormal Activity films.” But the Scotsman brings us back to earth, noting that it’s “another round of home video scares from a creep show franchise whose “found footage” is now best left in the cutting room bin.”

MORE: Paranormal Activity: A Horror Phenomenon

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