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(R) While the quality of Paranormal Activity 4 is little changed from its three predecessors (they are all above-average examples of how to shoot found footage flicks), the tense atmosphere, where the scares collectively imagined and anticipated by the audience are so much more terrifying than anything delivered by the film, is utterly absent. No imminent danger is established as the 15-year-old protagonist, whose name I cannot recall (Kathryn Newton, who resembles a young Jane Krakowski), and her equally unmemorable boy-who’s-just-a-friend tape every uninteresting moment of their tame not-quite-courtship. Some creative set-ups never pay off; the Kinect bits epitomize the movie’s wasted potential for terror. Even the anticipated return of the original’s statuesque Katie Featherston disappoints, as she’s barely around. The climactic sequence finally ramps up the scary but only for maybe five of the movie’s 88 minutes. PA4 also fails to develop the intriguing mythology introduced by its immediate predecessor. Boo on all counts. Skip this exceedingly weak entry in what, for three movies, had been a smart, effective horror franchise. If you ignore this advice, stick around through the credits for what looks like a teaser of the next installment.


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