Taking top spot as this weekend’s box office hit, Paranormal Activity 4 raked in $30.2 million, a mere fraction of the $50 million profit Paranormal Activity 3 earned. Why? Well, it could be that the movie is chock full of chills, thrills, and plot holes galore.
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The documentary-style flick follows a family of four as their lives are turned upside down when their new neighbor’s son brings with them a demonic spirit that torments, haunts, and terrifies the wide-eyed audience who spent their price of admission this weekend.
After the first three films, we come to understand that as a child, Katie and her sister have a pact with the demon, Toby, to sacrifice their first-born male child as is required of the demon-worshipping cult their grandmother invited them into. Time goes on, they get older, Toby gets stronger, people die, and low and behold, you have the fourth installment. All plot holes filled to this point, writers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman decided to create a cluster of confusion in their fourth film.
Katie and Robbie, seemingly the kidnapped boy from the second Paranormal Activity, move next door to the family of four, complete with a teenage girl, Alex, two nearly-divorce parents, and the young adopted son, Wyatt. Struck ill with some illness, Katie leaves Robbie with the family while she gets better. Where did she go? I have no idea.
In typical Paranormal Activity fashion, audiences are treated to creepy camera angles, mysterious ambient hums, and unexplained movement of furniture. We see Robbie talking to who we assume to be Toby in the middle of the night. He also sneaks into Alex’s bedroom while she sleeps. We know this because Alex’s boyfriend, Ben, has set up cameras throughout the house to document the strange things that have been going on at night.
As Robbie and Wyatt grow closer, we find out that Robbie is “preparing” Wyatt for his “time.” Although we’re duped to believe that Robbie is really the kidnapped boy from Paranormal Activity 2, we find that he’s not and it is, in fact, Wyatt who is the kidnapped son, Hunter.
So wait a second. Why did Katie give Hunter/Wyatt up in the first place if she was just going to kidnap him again to sacrifice him? Who’s Robbie then? Why does he have an old fork and say it’s so important? Why, if Toby’s objective was to take Hunter/Wyatt away from the family, did he torment the younger sister? In the previous films, Toby’s violence piques to the point where he has to kill in order to get what he wants. In PA4, it seems he has a laundry-list of useless murders that provide no depth to the plot whatsoever. Why does Katie’s face distort into this piranha-esque monster who attacks Alex? So wait, where’s Toby? Is Katie a new demon? Why is it important that the parents are thinking about getting a divorce? Why can Alex NEVER remember her password and username to actually watch her recordings? What’s up with the tree-house? What. On. Earth. Did I just watch.
PA4 is a sure set up for yet another sequel due to release during the Halloween season next year. The popular franchise has audience members hooked not just by fear and curiosity, but utter confusion after this head-scratching brow-furrowing flick.