PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

A half-step up from the third installment, but that’s not saying much. By now, the recording devices placed at strategic points around the house seem more like a plan to make a movie on the cheap than a clever way to be scary. And especially at the end, the supposed use of hand-held video makes no sense: who thinks to grab a camera while running for their life? There’s a good scene involving chopped vegetables and a knife, a creepy kid who has a way with a line, and evil Katie Featherston, back for her fourth go-round. But the frights are few, and to advance the plot, the screenplay relies on a far-fetched rationale for bringing that aforementioned creepy kid into the lead characters’ house, plus the refusal of the adults to acknowledge out-of-kilter phenomena despite repeated physical evidence and the growing hysteria of their daughter. Weak. — Jeff Schultz

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