Paranormal Activity 4 Trailer: Webchat Terror

Paranormal Activity 4 trailer

Yet another Paranormal Activity sequel is heading to theaters this fall, but the increasingly repetitive found footage franchise is introducing some new elements to its scare tactics. For instance, a blonde chick, after three movies of brunettes! Even more original: Paranormal Activity 4 will deliver its spooks via Skype — so tech-forward, so of the moment — the likes of which we totally haven't seen before. Or have we?

The October four-quel is set in November of 2011, five years after Katie (Katie Featherston) and her boyfriend (Micah Sloat) suffered the supernatural attacks that set the half-billion dollar Paranormal Activity train off into microbudget blockbuster history. Forget the dumb shenanigans that sent prequel Paranormal 3 running off the rails into horror hokum; this one's about teenagers and the internet and webcam technology!

... which might feel a lot more cutting edge if it hadn't already been done, and well, by director Joe Swanberg in the horror anthology V/H/S, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival just weeks after a fourth Paranormal Activity was announced. In Swanberg's V/H/S segment, a girl and her boyfriend chat via Skype as strange happenings befall one of them, suspense building from the clever use of the obscured and fragmented perspective of "found" chat window footage.

At Sundance, I spoke with one of the producers of the Paranormal Activity franchise and one of the major horror titles on his radar was — surprise, surprise — V/H/S. Conveniently enough for Paramount and the PA4 filmmakers, indie horror fave V/H/S won't be released until October 5, and in limited release at that; shame mainstream audiences aren't likely to even hear it before PA4 barrels along into wide release on October 19.

Meanwhile, as fast and on the fly as these Paranormal Activity movies seem to be made, the last installment was something of an extra-unusual curiosity in that a good portion of footage (and, seemingly, entire plot threads) teased in earlier trailers were cut out of the final film. Shooting cheaply, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the Catfish guys, back behind the camera on PA4), seemed to have filmed a number of potential endings that went discarded in favor of the lamest ending imaginable. I'll admit I'm curious to see how they stitch together a story this time and if we'll see anything from this and subsequent trailers in the eventual theatrical cut.

Verdict: Oh, fine. Watch PA4, but make sure to seek out V/H/S this October.

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