REVIEW: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (2015)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

I’ve enjoyed the Paranormal Activity series and while I admit it was starting to show definite signs of running out of gas with the much maligned part 4, there did seem to be a bit of a second wind with the fun spin-off, The Marked Ones. Now we get Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension which is being sold as the series finale, but really doesn’t answer any more questions than the previous entries and doesn’t really make good on some of The Marked Ones‘ promise.

This entry takes place at Christmas time at the home of the Fleeges family. We have Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his pretty wife, Emily (Brit Shaw) and their adorable little girl Leila (Ivy George). They are joined by Ryan’s recently single brother Mike (Dan Gill) and pretty blonde “Auntie Skyler” (Olivia Taylor Dudley), whose actual relationship with the family is never really clear (Emily’s sister?) other than to provide exposition and look hot in Daisy Dukes. They discover a box with an old video camera and VHS tapes, in the house, which reveal young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristie (Jessica Tyler Brown) from Paranormal Activity 3. Upon watching these tapes they observe some bizarre cult activity with the two girls and strange things begin to occur in their own home. The camera can apparently pick-up ‘spirit photography’ (as per our lovely Auntie Skyler) and Ryan begins to see strange things floating around the house. The activity seems to be focused on Leila and as the activity grows and Leila’s behavior begins to change, the Fleeges begin to fear there is something dark and dangerous in their home…and evidence indicates they have been targeted by something sinister. Somebody call an exorcist!

Series editor Gregory Plotkin directs from a story and script by no less than five people. While he actually doesn’t do a bad job for his first outing, the script doesn’t really give him that much new to work with till the last act and while that adds a few new wrinkles, it doesn’t come close to providing a satisfying finale. Odd that five people working for two years couldn’t come up with anything more then basically just another installment. The spirit camera gimmick looses it’s novelty quickly and since our imaginations can concoct far worse than any FX technician, demon “Toby” is reduced to just another CGI phantom that has become all too common in this digital effects age. He’s not that impressive now that he’s been outed and we are no longer as afraid of him. At least in previous entries we never knew where he would strike from next. Here we can see him coming. Plotkin does give us some legitimate tension and chills, but the movie really doesn’t go too far from where any previous entry went and when we finally find out what the witch coven “The Mid-Wives” want, it’s basically nothing that the demon/exorcism movie of the week hasn’t done before. There is some cool stuff with the dimension portal introduced in Marked Ones and some fun use of PA3 footage, but the film seems to only casually address elements in the last two films with throwaway lines and even uses that same approach with a major character, leaving her fate a loose end. Even the climax leaves us at a point where there is obviously more to the story, so, as a finale, this feels far from final. The usual complaints are still here, too. Such as, why don’t they ever put the camera down, even when in danger and why don’t these people seem anything more then moderately curious when discovering there is a demonic entity stalking their child…and did no one think of Windex-ing the demonic symbols said child drew, off the wall? She’s continually allowed to sleep in a bed surrounded by writing that has been identified as demonic in nature. Bad parenting indeed! Suffice to say, characters do not behave logically or practically as the film progresses and we wonder if “The Mid-Wives” indeed made the right choice as this clan seems to be walking right into their sinister plot perfectly…and with predictable results.

The cast were fine and at least the characters where likable. Murray is fun as dad Ryan who is quite fascinated at first by the camera, tapes and odd goings on. The script doesn’t have him or anyone else as scared or concerned as they should be, but that’s not the actor’s fault. Gill is amusing as Ryan’s goofball brother and provides the comic relief, which is welcome at times. Ivy George is adorable as little Leila and escapes annoying child syndrome, so, we like and care about her. She does good work for a tyke. The Paranormal Activity series continues the tradition of hot mom’s and good looking supporting characters with Brit Shaw’s pretty girl-next-door mom Emily, who seems a little more concerned about the lurking demon than her husband and Olivia Taylor Dudley (also seen recently in The Vatican Tapes) whose character’s purpose may be questionable, but she’s hot, so we’ll tolerate it. We also get familiar faces such as Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown and Hallie Foote returning as young Katie, Kristie and Grandma Lois respectively. Notice anybody missing?…grrrr!*

Didn’t hate it, but it is a big disappointment for those looking for a solid finale and tied up loose ends. New director Gregory Plotkin doesn’t do a bad job, but is working from a script compiled by five people and it does teeter on the edge of mess at times. The flick has a few new wrinkles that are amusing enough, but falls back on familiar series tropes and makes a bit of a mistake in revealing it’s series villain as just another CGI spook, after five films left him to our own overactive imaginations. There are…as usual with this series…just as many loose ends as there are questions answered, leaving the door ajar in case this makes a boatload of cash and Toby returns once more.

*As a personal gripe, how can you end a series without it’s lead character (aside from Toby) is beyond me. Boo!

-MonsterZero NJ

  2 and 1/2 spooks…it earns a few ‘hottie in Daisy Dukes’ extra points.

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 FOUND FOOTAGE FLICKS TO WATCH DURING THE HALLOWEEN SEASON!

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Not everyone appreciates the found footage sub-genre, but when done right, I think they can be spooky fun! So here are ten found footage horror flicks which might provide some chills, thrills and nervous giggles during your Halloween season film festivals

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. The Blair Witch Project 

2. Paranormal Activity (Obviously, you can screen the sequels, if you choose)

3. [REC] (2 & 3 are also entertaining, though 4 is not found footage)

4. The Last Exorcism

5. Grave Encounters

6. As Above So Below

7. The Taking Of Deborah Logan

8. The Houses October Built

9. Devil’s Due

10. Alone With Her

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: AREA 51, BURYING THE EX and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROUGUE NATION

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AREA 51 (2015)

After the smash success of Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli returned to the director’s chair for his sophomore effort in 2009…and the movie has since languished in post-production hell for the last six years…now we know why. Found footage flick has a silly plot with three young friends (Darrin Bragg, Reid Warner and Ben Rovner) concocting an absurd scheme to break into the infamous Area 51 military base. They have the help of a former employee’s daughter (Jelena Nik) and succeed where many have failed.

Obviously, they are not happy with what they find…and neither are we. Flick takes a ridiculous 70 minutes for anything interesting to happen and at about 95 minutes long (including it’s slow crawl credits) that’s simply too long to wait. What we do get is amusing, but exactly what you’d expect to get in a flick about Area 51 and it’s fleetingly glimpsed and over far too quickly. There is barely anything resembling scares or suspense and what we do finally encounter is very predictable and been done before, especially in the X-Files…and done better. Area 51’s actual secrets may still be a mystery, but why this flick sat for six years and was quietly dumped onto VOD and home media, isn’t.

 -MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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BURYING THE EX (2014)

Director Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) has made quite a few classic films, which is why it’s disappointing that his latest effort is so sadly mediocre. Story has horror movie fan and slacker Max (Anton Yelchin) dating the hot but extremely bitchy, Evelyn (Ashley Greene), while he could be with the sweet, horror movie-themed-ice-cream-shop owner, Olivia (Alexandra Daddario). The wrong words said in front of the wrong magic item in the shop Max works at, ensures he will be with Evelyn forever…even when she is hit by a bus and killed. Now, as he desperately wants to date Olivia, Max’s girlfriend is back and there’s going to be trouble.

Flick’s problems lie in it’s uninspired and sadly unfunny script by Alan Trezza. Dante tries to give it some life and it is colorful and filled with the horror movie references and imagery Dante excels at, but the script is unimaginative, predictable and let’s Dante down at every turn. The premise has been done before, but still could have made fun use of it’s scenario, instead it is routine and without the wit to really make this a good time. At least Dante get’s good work out of the cast as Yelchin, Greene and Daddario…who is especially endearing as the ultimate horror geek girlfriend fantasy, Olivia…do their best to get something out of their thinly written parts. With a better script this could have been a real treat as it had a great director!

 -MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015)

I originally was not a fan of this series, but to be honest, each installment has been an improvement over the last with this and the previous installment, Ghost Protocol, being a lot of fun. Dare I say this series has finally hit it’s stride with it’s fourth and fifth entries. This chapter finds the IMF being dissolved by the government right in the middle of Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) mission to track down “The Syndicate”, an organization that is the IMF’s equal, yet dedicated to disruption and terrorism. Now considered a rogue agent and being hunted around the world, Hunt must team with Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Luther (Ving Rhames) and mysterious agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) to bring the syndicate down.

As written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Rogue Nation is fast-paced and entertaining with some great camaraderie between Cruise and his team, especially Pegg. There are some fun action sequences and some thrilling escapes with the usual espionage and covert operations mixed in. The only thing holding it back a little, is that the action is nothing out of the ordinary, despite being well-staged and the main villain (Sean Harris) is rather weak. Otherwise this is a fun spy/action flick and Swedish actress Ferguson gets to steal a few scenes from Cruise…which isn’t an easy thing to do. Also stars Alec Baldwin as a CIA thorn in the IMF’s side. Fun!

 -MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: POLTERGEIST (2015)

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POLTERGEIST (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The 1982 Poltergeist is a classic and even if it comes off as a bit cheesy, over three decades later, it’s still a roller coaster ride of fun. Gil Kenan’s remake, on the other hand, is a completely by-the-numbers, generic haunted house flick that reminds one more of the awful The Apparition than the Spielberg produced, Tobe Hooper directed fright flick.

Story is basically the same, with couple Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) moving with their three children, teen Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), young Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and little Madison (Kennedi Clements), into a housing development…built over a former cemetery, of course…and soon starting to experiencing paranormal activity. The activity seems to be targeting the two youngest, with Maddie in particular being the focus. Soon the little girl is abducted into a spirit realm and a paranormal crew, headed by famous TV ghost hunter Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris), arrive to try and save Maddie and rid the house of it’s angry specters.

Completely unnecessary remake is unimaginatively written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed flatly by Gil Kenan, who brings nothing new or special to the tale. There are a few scant effective moments but, that is only when the film deviates slightly or tries to add a new wrinkle, like sending a toy drone, equipped with a camera, into the spirit realm. The film rarely tries anything new, though and basically follows the original story and very blandly at that. Kenan brings none of the fun that he gave his animated Monster House and writer Lindsay-Abaire rarely strays from the path set by the original movie. The flick also gives us very little to be scared of and doesn’t even try to match the original’s bombastic funhouse atmosphere. This flick is actually far more grounded and thus far less interesting and most of the time, it’s outright dull. The characters are all bland and not particularly endearing, like the slightly eccentric Freeling family were in the 1982 original. They also seem to accept the supernatural explanations far too easily to add any tension. If you are going to remake a classic like Poltergeist…and you really shouldn’t…then at least go somewhere new with it and really shake things up. People give Rob Zombie alot of flack for his Halloween remake but, at least he tried to go in a different direction with it. This is a mediocre at best retread with none of the energy and life that was given the original film by those behind the camera. The look of the film and it’s lack of any real vitality evoked the recent and epically terrible, The Apparition far more than the beloved 1982 classic.

Despite the presence of vets like Rockwell and Harris the cast are also very bland and wooden. Rockwell seems like he is basically on a paycheck job and gives us none of the vitality he usually brings. Anyone could have played the part. Rosemarie DeWitt is equally bland and brings none of the fire Jobeth Williams had in the original. Sharbino is pretty but, a typical bratty teenager and Kennedi Clements is cute as Maddie but, just nowhere near as sympathetic or memorable as Heather O’Rourke. Only Young Kyle Catlett gives his role a little vibrance as Griffin, as does Jared Harris as the TV paranormal expert…but, still, Zelda Rubenstein he’s is not.

Simply put, this is a boring and very generic remake whose few effective scenes come only when the film finally tries something new or deviates from the original story…mostly in the last act. Even then, it is only slight and the new elements are minimal. It’s not quite a scene for scene remake but, almost and none of it has the over-the-top energy or fun of the classic original. There are also no real scares either, including the new version of the infamous clown doll and if you can’t make a clown doll scary, then what exactly is the point? Watch the original.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 epic fail scary clowns.

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“PARANORMAL ACTIVITY : THE GHOST DIMENSION” GETS A TRAILER!

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What is being proclaimed as the final chapter in this series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension finally has a trailer. Sources say this flick will answer all the open questions, be partially in 3D and bring this successful found footage series to a conclusion. While these films have divided horror fans down the middle, I personally have had fun with them and hope this ends the series on a high note.

Of the new film, producer Jason Blum said… “It’s coming to an end. This is it, the finale. We’re saying it before the movie opens. We’re not going to grind this horror franchise into the ground. This will keep Paranormal Activity as part of this culture and this particular time in a really fantastic way…All the questions that everyone has asked from the past Paranormal Activity films: What does Toby look like? What’s the backstory to the families? These questions have been teased out. Now they will be answered.”

And of the plot… “a new family, the Fleeges — father Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mother Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) — who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them – including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.”

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is slated to open in theaters 10/23/2015!

-MonsterZero NJ

Sources:  ShockTillYouDrop/Youtube/USA Today

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25 CULT CLASSIC HORROR FLICKS TO SPICE UP YOUR HALLOWEEN MOVIE LIST!

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Need some spooky diversions for your Halloween movie watching this year? Something a little off-beat? These are 25 cult classic horrors that add some ghoulishly refreshing spice to your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. THE BOOGENS
  2. THE PROWLER
  3. BLACULA
  4. THE EVIL
  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
  6. PROM NIGHT
  7. CHRISTNE
  8. SUPERSTITION
  9. THE CAR
  10. FIEND WITHOUT A FACE
  11. RE-ANIMATOR
  12. GALAXY OF TERROR
  13. PRINCE OF DARKNESS
  14. GARGOYLES
  15. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
  16. THE BURNING
  17. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP
  18. THE MONSTER SQUAD
  19. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
  20. JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES
  21. MY BLOODY VALENTINE
  22. BUG
  23. DEADLY BLESSING
  24. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
  25. EATEN ALIVE

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15 FAVORITE HORROR FLICKS OF THE LAST 5 YEARS

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These are 15 favorite… plus one honorary mention… horror flicks from the last 5 years that really grabbed me or entertained me and I re-watch/recommend quite often!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. TRICK ‘R’ TREAT (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  5. CABIN IN THE WOODS
  6. EVIL DEAD (2013)
  7. THE DEAD
  8. THE INNKEEPERS
  9. AMERICAN MARY
  10. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  11. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  12. OCULUS
  13. MANIAC (2013)
  14. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  15. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  16. honorary mention: ABSENTIA

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

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I thought I’d wrap up my recent look back at the Paranormal Activity sequels… as well as a review of the new Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones with a look back not only at the first sequel/prequel Paranormal Activity 2, but with a review of an unofficial direct sequel made in Japan called Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

Not often do sequels live up to the original… and this sequel doesn’t quite rate an equal… but Paranormal Activity 2 does a good job of keeping up with it’s predecessor well enough. Director Tod Williams uses your familiarity with the first chiller to mess with you and up the ante on the goose-bump factor. He knows when you’ll expect something and more importantly, when you’re not. PA2  is cleverly written and is a nice companion piece to the original as it is both sequel and prequel, fitting with the original like an adjoining puzzle piece. This film involves Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland) and step-daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) as they welcome new baby boy Hunter (Jackson and William Prieto) into the house. Soon after the baby’s arrival, the house is broken into and strange things start to occur. In response, Daniel has security camera’s installed while Ali starts to carry a camera around with her everywhere, thus keeping in line with the found footage format as we are allegedly watching that footage. Daniel refuses to believe what Ali and Kristi are starting to suspect, that they have another new arrival, other than the infant son, and this one isn’t as cute and sweet.

Paranormal Activity 2 takes place, mostly, 2 months before the first film, allowing for appearances from Micah (Micah Sloat)and Katie (Katie Featherston) and it explains a bit more as to why these occurrences are happening and how it wound up at Micah and Katie’s house a few months later. And without giving anything away, PA2’s timeline does catch up to it’s predecessor during a final act which had the preview audience screaming almost non stop. Which is why these flicks are best seen with an audience. To reveal any more would ruin a fun and spooky follow-up and for fans of this series, it is exactly that. The cast all do good work and come across as a family and I found the Rey’s quite likable and that helps your concern for them and it was fun to see Micah and Katie again too. PA2 won’t convert those who didn’t appreciate Oren Peli’s original scare-fest, but for those that did, it’s a sequel that smartly remains familiar enough to it’s source yet, shakes things up just enough to satisfy and entertain. Well done! Also stars Vivis Cortez as the Latino housekeeper with a handy knowledge of the supernatural.

PERSONAL RANT: I respect that a lot of people don’t hold this sequel in the same regard I do, but one of the things that annoys me is that the detractors always go to the ‘haunted pool cleaner’ as a major argument point. If they were paying attention, there is a scene where Daniel clearly demonstrates to Ali and Kristi that the pool cleaner is simply malfunctioning. So it is not possessed, it’s a red herring and helps to further serve Daniel’s disbelief that there is anything supernatural going on. I respect opposing opinions, but picking on and twisting points that are clearly explained just to further your viewpoint, not so much.

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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BONUS REVIEW

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: TOKYO NIGHT (2010)

Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night is an unofficial Japanese made sequel to Paranormal Activity where brother Koichi (Aoi Nakamura) is…for some reason (maybe it was explained, but the subtitles on the print I saw were pretty poor) using a camera to document while he cares for his injured sister Haruka (Noriko Aoyama), who is wheelchair bound. When strange things begin to happen around the house, the brother continues to document as the paranormal bumps in the night escalate and it becomes clear there is something malevolent in their home. And since his sister was injured while in the US in an accident involving the demon possessed Katie from Paranormal Activity, is this any surprise?

Despite the new setting, the addition of Japanese spiritual culture and making the antagonists brother and sister, Japanese offspring of Peli’s runaway hit is basically made from the same formula and is practically a remake of PA1. Writer/director Toshikazu Nagae does deliver some amusing bits…including using a split screen effect as the siblings have separate bedrooms and thus a camera in each, so you have to keep an eye on two rooms at once…and it does have a few spooky moments…including a creepy hospital set ending…but everything is just too familiar to make it anything more then just a curiosity for fans of this series and it sure won’t recruit any new ones. In an odd way it does fit in, to a degree, with the rest of the series, so if you are a completest, you may want to seek this out. To my knowledge there was never any legal action by the Paranormal Activity creators or Paramount Pictures, but maybe they found it as mildly amusing and ultimately harmless as I did.

2 and 1/2 spooks!

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PA2: Tokyo Night also follows the Paranormal Activity series’ tradition of cuties for leading ladies with Noriko Aoyama…

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REVIEW: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (2013)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (2013)

The previous entry in this found footage franchise was widely panned as the weakest of the series, even by fans and while I didn’t think it was as bad as it was made out to be, it was still the lesser of the series and was showing a franchise in need of either fresh ideas and more daring directions, or a final chapter to wrap it up. The Marked Ones is definitely a good start back in the right direction and a spooky sign that these movies may not be done yet, if this is where things might be headed. Fans of this series will be happy to know that not only does this supposed “spin-off” get PA back on track but, is more reliant on actual scares than jump scares and answers a lot of questions that the other films have set up. It ties in perfectly with the previous entries and yet is it’s own flick.

The movie starts out with friends Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) who live in an urban neighborhood and have a downstairs neighbor Anna (Gloria Sandoval) who is said to be a witch. One night this ‘witch’ is murdered and Jesse and Hector…who are always filming things with a new camera…choose to sneak into her apartment and poke around. They find the woman’s journal and it does indeed seem to indicate this mysterious woman was into the black arts and was part of a witch coven seeking to build an army of demon possessed first born males. Jesse wakes up the next morning with a bite mark on his arm and things start to get weird and Jesse’s behavior starts to change with heightened aggression, strength and an almost supernatural ability to keep himself from harm. This causes Hector and Marisol to investigate further…which includes meeting with Ali Rey (Molly Ephraim) from Paranormal Activity 2…and they soon find that Jesse may have been marked by this coven since before birth to become the next soldier in this nightmarish army. Can they save him or will Jesse be damned like the others before him?

Writer/director Christopher Landon answers that question… and many more… with a truly ‘crap you pants’ finale following a fun and scare filled flick that is both familiar and fresh at the same time. He knows how to build scares and he does so slowly with a film that builds it’s momentum steadily till a really intense last act that leads up to one of the best horror movie endings in quite a while and a climax fans of this series will love from between the spaces of the fingers that are covering their eyes. Landon cleverly ties this flick in with the previous entries and we get references galore and revisit a few familiar settings as well. As for the return of any other familiar faces other then Ali, you’ll have to see it to find out.

The cast are really good here. Our three leads are very likable and supply some fun laughs early on, especially from Diaz’s lovable goof-ball Hector. Jacobs makes a solid leading man and we like Jesse and feel for him as it becomes obvious he is in deep supernatural trouble. The camaraderie between the three makes Hector and Marisol’s efforts to save him seem real and the risks they take believable…and messing with a demonic worshiping witch cult is risky, as we find out.

So, in conclusion, Christopher Landon has things back to form and even shows promise of more intense things to come. He makes good use of the found footage format which is far less obtrusive here then in the last flick and he has a nice visual style to add to the atmosphere. This is also the most violent entry in the series and one of the scariest since the first flick so, this film earns it’s R rating from more then just a few curse words and snapped necks. If nothing else, Landon gives his Latino themed entry in this series a really great ending that will stick with you for a while after leaving the theater, especially if you are a fan. Let’s hope they can keep this new momentum going with future entires. It may still not attract any new fans to the series, but should rejuvenate the interest of fans disappointed by PA4. Well done and a lot of scary fun!

3 and 1/2 spooks!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

I know this sequel gets a lot of negative heat thrown it’s way but, as a fan of this series, I have to say I liked Paranormal Activity 4 to a degree. It’s the weakest entry in the series so far, and is low on scares but, I still had spooky fun with it and the last act delivered some goods. I think there still is enough of what fans like about this series to entertain but, next entry better start cranking things up and taking risks as this 4th chapter is showing some major signs of a franchise running out of steam. This entry opens up in 2011. A family in Nevada gets new neighbors across the street, a strange boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) and his single mom, Katie (Katie Featherston). When his mom is suddenly taken to the hospital, the family takes creepy Robbie in. Once he is settled into their home, teen Alex (Kathryn Newton) starts to notice strange occurrences as Robbie befriends her little brother, Wyatt (Aiden Lovecamp) and so, she and boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) set up cameras and set the household laptops to record to get to the bottom of things that are going bump in the night…and bump in the day, too. Soon Alex begins to believe Robbie is not the only new occupant in the house and this spectral guest is far from a friendly ghost. The first act seems to be a bit choppy… though the director’s cut does flow better and adds a few fun bits… and there are a few odd edits throughout… such as one character being dragged out of their room and then suddenly on their feet, laptop in hand and apparently unharmed in the very next scene like it never happened… and it is also in act 1 in which the film has it’s strongest feeling of déjà vu but, things start to pick up steam during the middle act and the movie really starts to click and become more it’s own thing. Then the third act locks in and delivers the goods up to and including the spine-chilling climax. Sure, along the way there are some familiar elements but, you wouldn’t remove Jason’s hockey mask would you? There were enough new wrinkles in my book to keep things going, as well as, some subtle hints as to where the mythos might be headed. Not to mention a surprising reveal, too… although I admit it poses more questions then it answers. The cast are all fine. The parents (Alexondra Lee and her real-life husband actor Stephen Dunham who sadly passed away the month before this was released) get the least screen time and character development but, the teens are very likable, Newton and Shively work well together and give the flick a sort of Scooby Doo vibe, Newton especially is a strong heroine, Lovecamp’s Wyatt is sweet and Allen’s Robbie is very creepy. Series regular Katie Featherston gets a bigger role then last time around and without spoiling things, I liked how the character was used and Katie Featherston did a good job with her role. All in all there is some definite ‘been there done that’ and some wear and tear on the formula but, I think fans will enjoy this entry enough to want more and that’s what the filmmakers will have to deliver next time to keep this series going. It’s time to really take some chances and give us something to really bite our nails over. Paranormal Activity 4 is a nice snack to hold us over till then but, it’s time for Katie and company to give us a full meal of new frights and new surprises as PA4 admit-tingly does appear more like something put together just to keep us busy till they come up with something really solid. This series needs a second wind if it is to survive.

3 generous spooks!

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The infamous trailer which includes a lot of spooky scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut or directors cut… the film was edited up to the last minute before release and sadly some of these bits didn’t make the released print. Shame, because some of it looks better than the sequences we got and I personally think a lot of the negativity this flick gets is a product of the disappointment of not getting stuff that the trailers advertised…

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