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Paranormal Activity 4

Blu Ray

  • Score
    56
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • PA4: More of the same, fans might enjoy; newcomers & weary might pass. Blu-ray is OK.

    Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    64
  • Paranormal Activity 4's Blu-ray mirrors its intentional amateur aesthetic with consumer-grade HD visuals, fluctuating contrasts, and noticeable video artifacts, capturing the filmmakers' deliberate low-quality found footage vibe.

  • Audio
    71
  • Paranormal Activity 4's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack evolves from tame to immersive, with clear dialogue and a late bass surge, creating a terrifyingly enveloping experience with distinct surround sounds and deep sonic richness.

  • Extra
    30
  • Paranormal Activity 4 Blu-ray exclusive: The Recovered Files (HD, ~29 min) - deleted scenes adding scares without enhancing enjoyment, plus DVD/UV digital copies.

  • Movie
    49
  • 'Paranormal Activity 4' rehashes old scares with little novelty, utilizing an Xbox night vision gimmick but failing to revive the franchise's original thrill, despite introducing a creepy kid subplot.

    Video: 64

    The Blu-ray video presentation of "Paranormal Activity 4" offers a mix of high-definition and consumer-grade visuals that align with the series' established aesthetic. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode handles a variety of footage, from sharp images captured by dedicated cameras to more blocky and sloppy visuals from computer cams, which are integral to the film's found-footage style. While most scenes benefit from cleaner, steadier shots that effectively showcase details in household and outdoor settings—like the textures on kitchen appliances or the vibrancy of greenery—the overall picture quality is intentionally unpolished. Colors are generally well-represented though they lack impressiveness, with nighttime scenes suffering from washed-out blacks and noticeable black crush, impacting the depiction of natural skin tones which tend toward the pallid.

    Further complicating the video experience are persistent video artifacts and inconsistencies in contrast and brightness, indicative of the film's reliance on digital cameras from phones and computers for its source material. Low-frequency chroma noise, banding, and posterization are prevalent, detracting from the viewing experience in several sequences. Additionally, the fluctuation in contrast and brightness levels, along with the variable presence of grayish murky shadows and blown-out highlights, points to a deliberate but challenging execution of the film's visual intent. Despite these issues, whites remain relatively clean, and colors manage to be bold and vibrant, contributing to a semblance of realism within the carefully crafted illusion of authenticity.

    Overall, the Blu-ray presentation captures the filmmakers' intention of marrying realism with the limitations of consumer-grade footage. Definition and clarity swing from excellent to merely average based on the source quality, underscoring a visual style that's key to the narrative but might not cater to typical high-definition expectations. The resulting image is an intentional compromise, reflective of a series that embraces its low-fi aesthetic as a core element of its horror storytelling.

    Audio: 71

    Paranormal Activity 4" presents an audio experience that is initially more subdued than explosive, with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack gradually building momentum from a rather sonically dull beginning towards a gripping and immersive climax. The film's audio track is characterized by a consistent low-end pulse that lays the groundwork for the eeriness to unfold, albeit slowly, with minimal directional activity and noteworthy sounds in its early stages. This creates a suspenseful, if not slightly underwhelming, start. However, clarity is never compromised, as dialogue emanates cleanly from the front-center, ensuring that every word is heard, whether it comes directly from the camera or through the digital tininess of computer speakers.

    As the narrative progresses towards its peak moments, the audio presentation significantly ramps up, beginning around chapter thirteen, evolving into a robust showcase of the soundtrack's capacity to generate tension and fear. The utilization of heavy bass and detailed surround sound effectively envelops the audience in the escalating chaos, transforming the home viewing experience into one of palpable dread. This is further enhanced by impeccable production choices that allow for footsteps to not merely be heard but felt as they stomp or scurry across the room, with thumps and noises creating an eerily realistic ambiance that suggests the supernatural occurrences are happening within your own space.

    The technical prowess of "Paranormal Activity 4's" audio is undeniable, with exceptional directionality, channel separation, and a highly-responsive low-end that together craft a terrifyingly immersive atmosphere. The mid-range is distinct and dynamic, offering pristine clarity, especially in the upper frequencies. This sonic precision ensures that every subtle bump or more pronounced disruption in the night resonates with frightening authenticity. The front channels deliver a spacious soundstage, while the center channel maintains the integrity of vocals, contributing to an expertly mixed audio experience that stands out as a notable achievement in an otherwise average entry in the horror genre.

    Extra: 30

    The extras on the "Paranormal Activity 4" Blu-ray are somewhat sparse but intriguing for hardcore fans. The sole feature, "The Recovered Files," offers nearly 29 minutes of deleted scenes presented as additional found footage. This exclusive Blu-ray content does provide a few extra scares and an enhanced creepy atmosphere, though it doesn't significantly contribute to the main storyline's depth or enjoyment. It’s a notable addition for collectors or aficionados seeking a complete understanding of the film. DVD and UV digital copies round out the package, making it a must-have for series completists.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • The Recovered Files: A compilation of deleted scenes, enhancing the film's creepy vibes without adding to its overarching narrative.

    Movie: 49

    Paranormal Activity 4" marches along the well-trodden path laid by its predecessors, offering no respite from the franchise's increasingly predictable formula. Set five years after the disappearance that concluded the second installment, we're transported to Henderson, Nevada, where the Nelson family becomes unwittingly entangled with their new neighbors - notably, a strange boy named Robbie and his eerie invisible friend. Utilizing the franchise's hallmark of found-footage style, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost experiment with new recording mediums, such as laptop cameras and Xbox's Kinect, to embellish the narrative with fresh perspectives. Despite these efforts and the adept performances led by Kathryn Newton as Alex, the film struggles to escape the shadows of its antecedents.

    The movie's engagement with technical novelties like the Xbox Kinect's night vision capabilities underscores a fleeting attempt at innovation within a series that has grown increasingly stale. While this installment introduces new faces and situates itself in a new locale, the underlying story arc remains unchanged: an average family's quotidian existence gradually unravels under a barrage of inexplicable occurrences, culminating in a climactic confrontation that feels all too familiar. This repetition extends to the characters, with most failing to transcend their archetypal roles, save for the young Newton, whose character arc mirrors the series' trajectory from curiosity through terror to confrontation.

    "Paranormal Activity 4" thus encapsulates the franchise's critical impasse: its reliance on established conventions and expected jump scares over substantive renewal or narrative depth. While momentarily thrilling, particularly in its use of innovative recording techniques and some well-crafted suspenseful sequences, the film ultimately succumbs to the diminishing returns of formulaic storytelling. As it stands, this installment does little to rejuvenate the series, instead marching steadfastly towards an already foreseen conclusion that leaves audiences wondering what could have been if the franchise dared to venture beyond the confines of its paranormal activities.

    Total: 56

    Paranormal Activity 4" on Blu-ray serves as yet another testament to the law of diminishing returns that seems to plague long-running horror franchises. This installment, while introducing fresh faces and minor technical tweaks such as transitioning from blue to green night vision, ultimately does not deviate from the well-trod path of its predecessors. The narrative meanders, largely rehashing familiar scares and plot points, which may leave all but the most ardent of the franchise's fans feeling a sense of deja vu. Despite an attempt to shake things up, the movie struggles to offer significant advancements or innovations in the core storyline of the Paranormal Activity series.

    The technical presentation of this Blu-ray aligns with expectations set by prior entries in the series; it offers average video quality that adheres to the filmmakers' intended aesthetic, which some may find underwhelming. However, the audio stands out as a particularly aggressive and well-executed aspect of this release, providing a small saving grace to an otherwise standard package. The supplements offered are minimal, echoing the scarcity seen in previous releases, suggesting that the physical media package might cater more suitably to collectors or completists within the franchise's fanbase rather than attracting new audiences.

    In conclusion, "Paranormal Activity 4" on Blu-ray is unlikely to convert skeptics or breathe new life into the franchise for those whose interest has waned. It remains a niche acquisition, best recommended for hardcore fans or completists. The technical presentation does not elevate the film beyond its narrative limitations, and while the audio quality impresses, it cannot wholly redeem the experience. Casual viewers or those already critical of the franchise's repetitive formula might find more value in considering this a rental rather than a permanent addition to their collection.