The Paranormal Activity phenomenon is dead. The fresh ‘found footage’ style that once had crowds literally exiting mid-film in terror has lost its appeal, leaving behind shallow characters, a fickle plotline and cheap, overused thrills for this anticlimactic fourth installment.
The moving shadows, abrupt screams, shaky cameras and ‘token creepy kid’ have become tired replicas serving only to reiterate how cheap recycling is. Replacing the classic surveillance cameras with webcams and iPhones feels lazy at best. The once highly-effective ‘deep silence’ technique now inspires yawns, not terror.
Overall, we’re left with a series of confusing scare attempts with no plot stringing them together, despite decent-quality acting from Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively. The only real entertainment comes from the cinema’s teenage girls yelling in anticipation over disappointingly unfrightening payoffs. (GF) **1/2