Or Paranormal Activity 5 (because it is the same rubbish just in a Latino neighbourhood). My first film of 2014, new year, new start and you would think the big dogs American Hustle, Mandela, Twelve Years A Slave, nah, PA5 innit. Horror films have always been a guilty pleasure. I say guilty pleasure because let’s be honest the horror films of today have nothing on the classics by a long shot.
So PA goes street and for a moment you think, “Are they going to break the format?”, “Is this going to be different?”. Others may have thought there’s a fifth one? Haven’t even seen the first. Now the obvious stuff; if you despised the PA franchise then obviously do not bother. If you’re a longtime fan, it’s not bad, in fact surprising watchable. I will do my utmost not to spoil anything but consider this my warning.
Now I’m not going to lie. I got caught up in the PA craze when the first one hit the screens, I found it tense, chilling and scary. Freaked me out. Great to see a small low budget film that cost $15,000 to make become a sleeper box office phenomenon, spawning a franchise. Unfortunately, in doing so, more sequels emerged, regrettably more CGI emerged and a format that worked soon became tired and predictable very quickly. I personally was not impressed with the second and fourth efforts. The third installment went back to basics and was quite good.
Now the story has moved on to college student Jesse celebrating his graduation in his beaten down apartment building. In fact it was almost reminiscent of an urban Rear Window. While Jesse and pals are playing around with, what do you know, his father’s brand new handheld camera, strange goings on occur from the suspected witch from the apartment beneath. And before you know it, Jesse has been marked for possession by the same maniacal demon that has haunted the franchise. Now to it’s merits, where it lacks in scares and originality, guiltily playing through the same format despite removing the Night #1, Night#37 captions, the cast bring to life, real and more importantly likeable characters that make this predictable horror, well I say horror, watchable.
To be honest, the film attempts yet again to build up the tension and the scares to somewhat of a mixed bag. Friends popping out from corners, see it done it, craaap! But a creepy scene in which a playful game of Simon, you read that right, leads to an Ouija interrogation with a demon? Brilliant. The crazy shaky handheld camera work is back again. However, a neat little trick in which the guys play with Go Pro makes for some genuinely tense scenes. The opening act is genuinely typical of the format but makes it up with college humour, some say lazy, I say enjoyable. If me and my little bro had Go Pro and had demonic abilities, we would probably have played around before the sinister stuff kicked in. At times, it borders on parody. Some of the visual works in unleashing the little scares is brilliantly done.
Now POSSIBLE SPOILER it inevitably leads to a big climax with a revamped visit to the ranch featured at the end of the third and fourth installment respectively. I won’t say much more than that with the obvious impending doom approaching. However, there is an unexpected twist. Unexpected for this franchise if slightly half-inched (stolen) from another horror film, Insidious Chapter Two. That’s right for those that have seen it.
So to sum it up? Rubbish? Not entirely, quite watchable. Scary? Couple of jumpy bits, not a lot. For a PA fan, where does it rank? I rank the franchise as 1,3,5,2 and 4 personally. So it managed to make a tired format watchable with a twist that will make a sixth, no doubt, installment worth checking out. But one thinks it is time to wrap up the back story of this demon and put this to it’s grave before it overstays its welcome like this irritating demon. 2.5/5
Where does it rank? For now, #76 out of 119