updated 10/18/2012 AT 2:20 PM ET
•originally published 10/20/2012 AT 4:00 PM ET
How’s this for a movie preview?
At an advance screening of Paranormal Activity 4 in New York City on Tuesday night, one of the directors asked the audience: “Who’s ready to s––t their pants?”
Okay, so, the movie isn’t that disturbing. But it is still quite scary, and four films into a franchise, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead …
Paranormal Activity 4 opens with a reminder of what happened at the end of the second movie: a possessed Katie (Katie Featherston) has kidnapped her baby nephew, Hunter, and their whereabouts are unknown. We then meet a new character, Alex (Kathryn Newton), and her soon-to-be terrorized family. As per usual, cameras are set up around their home to capture the strange goings-on.
Rarely does a cinematic shtick maintain its effectiveness over more than a couple of installments, but that’s where Paranormal Activity 4 stands out. It’s still full of nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat adrenaline bursts since the original concept remains intact.
In all the Paranormal movies, there are chunks of time in which there’s not much going on as cameras silently pan around a sleepy house late at night. That’s where the filmmakers still have a good thing going. Even the fourth time around, surveying the big screen for any sign of the scare you know is coming is great fun for horror movie lovers.
Of course, the use of subtlety has progressively declined between the first Paranormal and the fourth; In this one, we see things like Alex levitating above her bed. (Personally, I preferred the more quietly terrifying footage in the original, like the bed sheets eerily moving on their own while everyone’s asleep).
Still, it’s fun to watch the plot slowly unfold here, especially when we learn the fate of Katie and Hunter. And thanks to the three-movie build up, Katie’s presence alone is enough to make you shiver in your seat.