All of the disappointments of Paranormal Activity 4 boil down to one thing: This is a franchise that’s forgotten what made it so special in the first place. The original Paranormal Activity was terrifying not because it had expensive special effects or excessive amounts of gore, but because director Oren Peli expertly stretched the tension to the point where the softest creak of a door hinge could make us jump. 2 and 3 dialed the scares up a notch and expanded on the mythology, but that delicious suspense at the core remained the same.

In contrast, I don’t think I’ve ever been as relaxed during a horror movie as I was during Paranormal Activity 4. The scares are theoretically bigger and badder this time around, but sloppy storytelling from directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman undermines any impact they might’ve had. After three great installments, the little low-budget horror series that could has finally lost its way.

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