Director: Christopher Landon
Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Jorge Diaz, Richard Cabrel, Micah Sloat
Written by: Christopher Landon
Running Time: 84 mins
Release date: 1st January 2014
First off, Happy New Year and we kick off 2014 like we did last year, with another horror film from a fairly popular franchise. This time instead of Leatherface chopping up people in 3D with Texas Chainsaw, we have number 5 in the Paranormal Activity series, only this one has nothing to do with haunted houses but with witchcraft. Like last year we start off with more of a bump than a triumph because this could easily fall into the category of dullest horror movie ever.
Jesse is an 18 year-old who has just graduated from school and is out for fun during the summer with his best friend, Hector. Living in his apartment block is a strange woman who covers her windows in newspaper and odd noises seem to come through the air vent into his home, which he shares with his grandmother after his mother died when she gave birth to him. Things start getting really strange when a boy from his school is seen running from the strange woman’s house and she lies dead. Jesse then discovers he has bite marks on his arm and slowly his personality changes. As they investigate more into the death, Jesse and Hector discover a secret coven of witches that Jesse is drawn more and more to.
If you are a regular reader of my reviews, you will know that I am not a great lover of modern horror films and so going into this, I had very low expectations. Those expectations were greatly met. This is another “found footage” film in which, shot entirely with shaky camera work, as if from the perspective of the character, you spend most of the time wondering what the hell is going on as it jumps and shakes all over the place, leaving you feeling queasy with motion sickness.
This device, really first introduced in The Blair Witch Project, has been done to death. It is such a boring, unoriginal way to try to introduce tension to a film that, frankly, lacks any in the first place. While the story is at least a little more interesting than just another house with another batch of spirits, it has nothing to do with any of the other Paranormal films that you question why it’s even linked with the series. A bit like Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, which removed Michael Myers and had nothing to do with previous films.
It also has characters that you have no interest in whatsoever. These are kids with a video camera who stick their noses in things that they neither belong or understand. Jesse and Hector think everything is one big laugh and yet, we, the audience, just find their antics childish and infantile.
As we get an hour where nothing actually happens of any interest, except loads of explanations (it’s about witchcraft, we get it) it kicks into life in the final 20 minutes with a lot of running around and screaming and you sit and wonder, if you were in that situation, wouldn’t you have put the camera down by now? The second question that crossed my mind was, if this is raw found footage, who did the editing?
Did I jump? No. Was I scared? No. Was I bored? Absolutely. It’s easy for me to mock horror films, having been bought up of diet of Hammer horrors and creepy 70s gems like The Exorcist and Halloween and when a film maker gets a horror right (see last year’s brilliant You’re Next, which took a well-worn horror staple, the slasher thriller, and injected new life into it) then there’s nothing more fun. This wasn’t fun. This was dull and it left me with a headache and no, it wasn’t from partying hard on New Year’s Eve.