The Paranormal Activity franchise may be with us as long as we have cameras—and there are worse annual rituals than sitting through a movie that wants to scare you with its formal rigor. Last year’s PA3 experimented with the cruddiness of ’80s camcorders. More spin-off than sequel, the latest jumps forward to November 2011, where webcams and camera phones promise better image quality and increased mobility. Apart from a hi-def night-vision gimmick, returning directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman don’t take advantage of either upgrade. Rather, pushing the franchise deeper into convention, the filmmakers fall back on loose chandeliers, pets suddenly jumping into the frame and one superbly Chekhovian planting of a carving knife.
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