Yup, another horror movie. I believe that the horror genre is too broad a term to describe a lot of these movies. I read an interesting article last week about Crimson Peak. It was a ghost story, not a horror story. The two are actually quite different. In a ghost story, the story should frighten you because of the contents, not have you jumping out of your seat in surprise because something flashed across the screen. A horror movie should deliver the latter, but should also put you in an uncomfortable state of mind with respect to something supernatural or unnatural, in most cases. A ghost story is something that makes you shudder. A horror movie makes you check that there is nothing behind your opaque shower curtain. With that said, Paranormal Activity and all of the movies associated with it are unquestionably horror movies. The movie will make you feel uncomfortable, and if you’re like me, you’ll be covering your eyes because you’re afraid to see the unseen.
The premise of this supposedly final installment in the Paranormal Activity series centers around a new family with a little girl who happens to share the same birthday with Hunter, the child who was kidnapped at the end of the second movie(PA2) and was the errant little kid from the fourth movie (PA4). This fifth movie circles with the third movie more than any of the others. The family in this fifth movie end up moving into what used to be the house from the end of the third movie (if you haven’t seen it, the girls end up with a woman who isn’t their mom after their mom and step-dad get killed by ‘Toby’). The movie starts out slow. The dad’s brother is visiting for Christmas and weird things start happening, then the find a super old video camera (the same one used in PA4). The camera is souped up and has all these extra features, allowing the dad and brother to see all this stuff that the other cameras aren’t picking up. At first it just looks like dust, but then the dust moves around, continuing to follow the young daughter around. The camera begins to pick up more and the daughter starts acting weird, trying to bury religious stuff and burn her mother’s Bible. At this point, both parents, the uncle and some random woman who is living with them (I never understood why she was there), start to really notice that the kid is not right and not long after, they call a priest and things go from bad to worse to the usual ending of these movies.
This movie is composed of mostly jump scares and little more. What little it answers, more questions remain. The story is tied to the main story of PA4, with a few references to PA1 and PA2. PA4 and PA5 seem like footnotes. I really tried to look for a tie back to PA5 (the last movie) and never found one, but the movie moves at a rapid pace. There was one element that I thought, if the creators had thought this through with PA3, they could have tied the sequences together better. I hate to give away huge plot points, but even in the trailer, the audience watches the characters from PA6 watching a video of the girls from PA3 and there could have been a lot more there that could have made the viewers see the story tie together. In the end, this movie was mildly diverting, but still worth seeing.
The use of children in these movies has always been one of the best draws to horror that anyone can imagine. Much like Children of the Corn, the idea of kids being bad or evil or possessed creates a certain amount of unease in anyone. I often like this series to The Omen and how the kid was just plain bad (and not just possessed by the diablo). For the horror genre, not enough can be said about what the Paranormal Activity Series has done. Blair Witch Project started the shaky cam idea, but the ghost hunter shows opened up this new avenue and the PA folks exploited it perfectly. While the lore for this series was never fully explored in a coherent manner, at least from what I could discern, it still made for entertaining movies. The idea that a group of witches would summon a demon and over the course of twenty years their goal would be reached is quite an accomplishment for the filmmakers. Even if the acting is middling and the special effects are more pronounced with each iteration, the movies still entertain and frighten. That’s all one can expect from such humble beginnings, I think.