Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Written by Christopher Landon & Chad Feehan
Starring: Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Bradley Allen, and Matt Shively
It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and a suburban family witness strange events in their neighborhood when a woman and a mysterious child move in.
Call me surprised, but I really enjoyed PA4. Hating the first two films, I went in with reservations, but I avoided all the reviews. I was shocked to find an engaging movie that held my interest and made me actually root for the protagonist. I saw this at a Movie Tavern, so it is possible the Mimosas played a role in my willingness to get sucked in.
I hated the first two movies and don’t mind telling you. I did enjoy the last one – the spotlight on the girls raised the evil stakes considerably. PA4’s protagonist, Alex (Kathryn Newton), is a smart and attentive teenage girl, a horror rarity by and large, and her convincing performance hooked me from the beginning. The woman next door is suddenly admitted to the hospital, leaving her son, Robbie (Allen) with Alex’s family for the next few days since he has no local relatives or friends to take him in. Robbie exhibits creepy behavior from the opening bell. He’s a classic night-time creeper, has an “imaginary” friend, and says and does things a kid he age would never do. Robbie should be pinging your PA radar immediately. The longer he stays at Alex’s home, the creepier he gets, and of course – the weird activity begins.
If you’re the type that has to have constant action in your horror movies, this is sure to be a buzzkill. All three acts are slow, relying on the standard PA sense of dread rather than morbid kills or prolific blood. Imho, this is one the film’s strengths. Waiting for the horror can be just as much fun as getting it. Some of the schlock from the other films is back again. Opening doors and moving objects aren’t very ominous or original by any means. One thing that did add a cool new twist was the infrared mapping system the Xbox 360’s Kinect device utilizes. Since it’s a motion capture device, it emits a field of invisible dots throughout the room to mimic the players moments onto the screen. If the room is filmed, the dots suddenly become a universe of glowing green dots. I love the creep factor this delivered.
If you didn’t notice from the trailers or tv spots, Katie is back and she is singular in vision. Her ultimate involvement taps into some dark things. The mysterious symbol of the circle inside the triangle is becoming clearer. The one thing that did piss me off about this film is that it feels too much like a 90 back story used to just link PA3 to PA5, almost as if PA4 was an afterthought or quickly added update. All in all, it’s much better than the first two, and certainly creepier and more original than the last one. It’s almost Halloween, invite some friends and enjoy this in a packed theater for the real experience.