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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Cast:
Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Matt Shively, Alexondra Lee, Stephen Dunham, Brady Allen, Sara Mornell, Aiden Lovekamp
Writing Credits:
Chad Feehan (story), Christopher Landon, Oren Peli

Tagline:
It's Closer Than You Think.

Synopsis:
When Katie disappeared with her nephew Hunter, there were no survivors. Five years later she's returned with a mysterious boy, ready to target new victims with her demonic rage. Now, a family's young daughter will capture every one of the terrifying occurrences, beginning with her new neighbors' arrival. It all leads to an 'ending so intense, it will leave you shaking.' - Billy Donnelly, Ain't It Cool News.

Box Office:
Budget
$5 million.
Opening Weekend
$29.003 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$53.884 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 87 min. (Theatrical Version) / 96 min. (Unrated Cut)
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 1/29/2013

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions
• “The Recovered Files” Deleted Scenes
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Paranormal Activity 4 [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 31, 2013)

Back in 2009, Paranormal Activity came out of nowhere to become a major hit. With a budget of $15,000, it went on to make $107 million in the US and it spawned three profitable sequels.

Because I thought the first film to be a total snoozer, I didn’t bother with the first two sequels, but with 2012’s Paranormal Activity 4, my curiosity got the best of me. Audiences still clearly enjoyed the franchise, so I wanted to watch Activity 4 and see if I could figure out what I’d been missing.

Since I never saw the second and third films, I recognize I’m out of the loop to some degree. Back in film one, Katie (Katie Featherston) turned out to be demonically possessed – or something like that – and she killed her annoying boyfriend Micah. Apparently in film two, she continued to serve evil forces so she murdered her sister Kristi and her brother-in-law Daniel before she skedaddled with Kristi’s young son Hunter in tow. (Activity 3 offered a prequel that focused on the childhood versions of Katie and Kristi.) The opening of Activity 4 flashes back to fall 2006 and lets us see what Katie did to her family.

With that we jump to Halloween 2011 in Henderson, Nevada. We meet teen Alex (Kathryn Newton), her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively), and her adopted younger brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp). They notice that a family just moved into the neighborhood and see a weird young boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) as he skulks about the area. It turns out that he’s their new neighbor, and he ends up staying with them when his mother gets hospitalized. Spooky weirdness ensues.

In theory, at least. That was the MO of the first movie: long stretches of ordinary behavior followed by the occasional glimpse of “what was that???” allegedly creepy material. Activity 4 does alter the original flick’s story, so it doesn’t qualify as a semi-remake, but it does attempt the same kinds of scares and narrative elements.

I guess that means that if you liked the first film – and presumably the second and third – you’ll enjoy Activity 4, but if you’re like me and you felt bored by Activity, it seems unlikely the fourth flick will change your mind. Bad sign: when I assume the movie must be close to completion, sneak a peek at my Blu-ray player’s timer and realize that the film still has an hour to go.

I felt the original movie offered a “watching paint dry” feel, and that doesn’t change much with Activity 4. Granted, I’ll say it tosses out a few more supposed scares along the way, but much of the movie remains in “whole lotta nothing” territory.

I do understand that horror movies can’t give us one fright after another; if a film attempts constant terror, none of it will produce a response. However, a good flick would at least provide an interesting narrative and engaging characters to bolster the scares.

At no point does Activity 4 provide either. Yes, we get something of a mystery, as we sense that there’s something supernatural around Robbie and the film slowly expands that notion, but it doesn’t dig into that tale well enough to involve us. Instead of “what’s going on?”, I get more of a “who cares?” feeling about the events at Alex’s house.

The characters themselves are uninspired and unexplored. Alex and Ben are nothing more than generic teens, and Robbie never expands beyond Creepy Kid territory. If anything occurs to allow them to become more interesting to us, I missed it; they remain forgettable personalities from beginning to end. At least there’s no one as annoying as Micah, arguably the least sympathetic character in movie history.

I guess it’s time for me to bail on the Paranormal Activity franchise. I gave films one and four a shot but found both to offer dull experiences. Obviously a lot of people like this series, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why; they feel like formless exercises in boredom to me.


The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C-

Paranormal Activity 4 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. “Found footage” movies always look mediocre, and that was the case here.

But since I expected that, I couldn’t complain. Parts of the film actually looked pretty good, as daytime camcorder shots demonstrated nice definition and vivacity. However, interiors tended to be softer and muddier, and “night vision” elements were thick and bland. Those tended to display moderate artifacts as well.

Again, none of this was a surprise – or a problem. A movie that purported to be captured by consumer electronics shouldn’t offer stellar visuals, so the inconsistent sharpness, colors and blacks made sense. Given the inherent blandness of the image, I didn’t feel comfortable with a grade above a “C+”, but I thought the Blu-ray captured the source appropriately.

Like the first film, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Paranormal Activity 4 was often essentially monaural. Every once in a while, I’d hear some minor ambience from the side and rear speakers, but those moments occurred infrequently. The vast majority of the material – which tended to focus on speech – came from the front center channel. This made sense given the “found footage” nature of the project, but it didn’t create an involving soundscape – at least not until the climax, which opened up to the side and rears pretty well.

We got no score of any sort, and as I noted, effects were usually minor. They seemed adequately captured given that they were supposed to sound like they were recorded with consumer-grade electronics. Speech was also acceptable; the lines tended to sound a bit distant – as they would due to their “on the fly” origins – but the lines remained intelligible. You won’t use this track to demo your home theater, but it worked for the film.

The Blu-ray packs both the film’s theatrical cut (1:27:08) and an unrated version (1:36:41). Because the Blu-ray marked my initial screening of the movie, I can’t comment on the changes, but I wanted to mention that the two versions appear here.

Under The Recovered Files, we locate 28 minutes, 56 seconds of deleted scenes. Given that it often feels like nothing happens in the final film, one might fear that footage not good enough to make the cut would be totally boring.

And one would be correct. We get some more generic character moments – like additional Halloween and video chat footage – as well as more banal “scares”. Alex’s parents get a bit more screen time, though. These sequences would’ve made Activity 4 longer but definitely not better, as they’re just the same old same old we expect from the franchise.

The disc opens with ads for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Paranormal Activity: The Chronology. No trailer for Activity 4 pops up here.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Activity 4. This includes both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film but lacks any other bonus materials.

Back in 2009, Paranormal Activity bored me, and in 2013, Paranormal Activity 4 left me with the same reaction. The newer flick probably threw out a few more scares, but it wasn’t any more involving in terms of plot or characters so it remained slow and tedious. The Blu-ray delivers more than adequate picture and audio but lacks many bonus materials. I guess fans of the franchise will like Activity 4, but the series’ popularity continues to perplex me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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