Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 is a 2012 American found footage supernatural horror film, directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost and written by Christopher Landon from a story by Chad Feehan. The film features Katie Featherston, who starred in the first film, and had cameos in the other two. The film was released in theaters and IMAX on October 17, 2012, in the United Kingdom and was released on October 19, 2012, in the United States, by Paramount Pictures. It is the fourth installment in the Paranormal Activity series, and a sequel to Paranormal Activity 2, set several years later.

Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity 4 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay byChristopher Landon
Story byChad Feehan
Produced by
CinematographyDoug Emmett
Edited byGregory Plotkin
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 19, 2012 (2012-10-19)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$142.8 million[2]


On October 9, 2006, Kristi Rey and her husband Daniel are killed by her demon-possessed sister Katie, who then abducts Kristi's one-year-old son, Hunter. The police are still unable to find Katie and Hunter in November 2011, when Alex Nelson is living in a wealthy suburb of Henderson, Nevada with her father Doug, mother Holly, and little brother Wyatt. Alex records footage with a laptop webcam before Alex and her boyfriend Ben set up cameras all over the house after many strange occurrences, which escalate into several cars parked outside a neighbor's house, and objects such as chandeliers, kitchen knifes, the family car, and garage doors becoming sentient.

The neighbor has a son, Robbie, who stays at the Nelsons' home while his mother is hospitalized. Wyatt tells Alex about Robbie's imaginary friend Toby,[3] and Alex finds Robbie in a closet saying "He doesn't like you watching us". Wyatt also tells Alex and Ben about meeting "him", revealing a green symbol on his back identical to an ancient Hittite symbol, one that would prepare a victim for demonic possession. They learn that the possession ritual requires a virgin blood sacrifice. It is then revealed than Robbie's mother is actually Katie. Wyatt is told by her that he and Robbie were adopted and that his other family needs him back. He argues with an unseen, unheard presence about his real name, declaring, "I'm not Hunter!". As the month progresses, there are even more odd activities, such as Wyatt going in a trance and levitating Alex. One night, a possessed Katie sneaks into the house and tells Wyatt she'll wait until he is "ready". Alex tries to show her parents the footage, but it has been mysteriously erased.

The next night, while Doug and Alex are at a dinner, two deaths occur at the home. Holly is violently thrown against the ceiling, and Ben, visiting the home to inform Alex about the symbol's relation to a coven, has his neck twisted by Katie. Alex and Doug arrive home and Doug goes next door, believing he saw Holly and Wyatt. Alex finds Ben's body and is suddenly knocked down by a force. She flees to Katie's home and finds Doug being dragged out of sight. She searches for him when she hears Wyatt's voice, before a demonic Katie runs towards her. Alex escapes from Katie by jumping through a window into the yard, where she finds Wyatt and dozens of women walking towards her. Katie lunges at her, the camera falls to the ground and the footage is cut off.



A fourth Paranormal Activity film was first hinted by Paramount domestic distribution head Don Harris in an interview with TheWrap published on October 23, 2011, two days after the United-States-wide release of the third film. As of that day, the entire franchise grossed $450 million on a budget of $8,015,000, the third movie grossing $54 million. Stated Harris, "I can't imagine that we wouldn't make a number four, and I imagine [Paramount Film Group president] Adam Goodman this morning is thinking about the challenge. I'm sure he's thinking, 'Now what do I do?'"[4]

Paramount Pictures announced on January 2, 2012, that Paranormal Activity 4 was in the works. Information on the characters had been scarce, stating that Brady Allen was set to play a character named Robbie. Katie Featherston reprised her role as Katie, who was still possessed from the ending of the first two films, but other cast and characters that appeared in the film were kept under wraps.[5][6][7]

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman returned to direct the film, and their experience in producing documentaries continued to help them with directing a found footage film.[8] Contemporary technologies, such as an Xbox Kinect camera and Skype, were incorporated to make the film realistic to audiences using them and to keep the found footage style innovative.[8]

On June 23, 2012, it was confirmed that the fourth film had begun filming.[9] A trailer debuted on August 3 in front of Total Recall. The first theatrical trailer was released for the film on August 1, 2012. The trailer showed that the film is a sequel to Paranormal Activity 2, following the story of a possessed Katie and Hunter after their disappearance at the end of the second film. The movie also featured a new scare technique, of footage being shown from a laptop in a video chat, that the directors felt would rival the 'fan cam' from the previous movie and that because of it being familiar technology it was "built for a horror movie".[10] The movie also featured an Xbox Kinect, a MacBook Pro, smartphones and a Canon XA10.[11]

The end credits of the film include a dedication to actor Stephen Dunham, who played Alex's father Doug. Dunham died shortly after filming was completed, suffering a heart attack on September 14, 2012, which was his forty-eighth birthday.[12][13][14][15]



Since its January 2012 announcement, most of the information on the plot, cast, and shooting location was unknown before its release.[16]

With Paranormal Activity 4, Paramount continued the marketing method of holding "demand" advanced screenings and airing commercials with footage of audience reactions.[17] On September 24, 2012, a 30-second teaser was exclusively released on Digital Spy's website.[18]

Box officeEdit


Domestically, Paranormal Activity 4 did not perform as well as Paranormal Activity 2 or Paranormal Activity 3. It debuted with $4.8 million in midnight showings. That made it the third highest in midnight grosses for a horror film behind only its predecessors, Paranormal Activity 3 ($8 million) and Paranormal Activity 2 ($6.3 million).[19] It then grossed $15 million in its opening day, also lower than the third film ($26.2 million) and second film ($20.1 million), bringing its total to $29 million in its opening weekend.[2] 60% of audiences that viewed it on opening weekend were under 25, and it had an equal portion of male and female watchers.[20]

Before the opening weekend, some analysts predicted Paranormal Activity 4 to start at number-one but with a lesser gross than its predecessor.[17][21] Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers cited examples of the like of fourth films in other franchises, such as Saw IV (2007), Shrek Forever After (2010), and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011);[17] and Grady Smith brought up the film's negative initial reviews and possible competition with another supernatural horror film Sinister.[21] Ultimately, however, the opening weekend gross was lower than the projected numbers, including Paramount's range of $35 million–$40 million,[17] and analysts' numbers of $40 million–$42.1 million.[17][21][22]

After the weekend, Smith suspected the 9 a.m. Thursday screening time allowed for negative word of mouth to get out sooner and that competition from Sinister hurt its potential.[23] Brooks Barnes of The New York Times suggested negative critical reception and viewer fatigue from the franchise as well as found footage films trying to replicate it harmed interest in Paranormal Activity 4.[24] Megan Colligan, the president of domestic distribution for Paramount, attributed the lower-than-expected numbers to a market saturation of sequels plus the film's bigger focus on international marketing.[25]

The film was predicated by Smith, since after the opening weekend, to have a front-loaded run, where most audiences rush to see the film on opening weekend only for its numbers to decline dramatically in later weeks; he cited a 38% drop in gross from Friday to Saturday ($15.1 million–$9.4 million) and the fact that front-loaded features are the most prominent in the horror genre.[23] On the second weekend, Paranormal Activity 4 went down to fourth place, grossing $8.5 million; the total by the second weekend, $42.5 million, was $10 million lower than the opening weekend of the previous film alone, and its 71% drop was the deepest in the series, lower than the third film's 66% second-week drop.[26] The top-15 of the weekend also included newly-entered films also underperforming, such as Cloud Atlas, Silent Hill: Revelation, Fun Size, and Chasing Mavericks; which Subers suggested allowed Argo, in its third week, to take the number-one spot.[26]


Paranormal Activity 4 improved on the predecessors in terms of international numbers; it opened in 24 countries[27] with an opening weekend gross of $26.4 million, 11% higher than that of the third installment. That weekend, it opened at number one in Australia, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil; number two in the United Kingdom and Russia; and number four in Spain.[28] The next weekend, the amount of countries playing the movie expanded to 45, and it grossed $14.1 million bringing the total to $48.3 million; a nation where the film debuted then included the Netherlands, where it opened in second place.[29] It grossed another $14.3 million the next weekend (now having a $68.8 million total gross) with only six national markets added and more strong debuts in countries like France and Japan.[30]

A movie theatre chain in the United Kingdom, Cineworld, accidentally showed screenings of the film, Paranormal Activity 4 rather than the DreamWorks animated film, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, leaving children traumatized.[31][32] Similar events happened in the US in 2007, with screenings of The Hills Have Eyes 2 instead of The Last Mimzy, in 2010 with screenings of Saw 3D instead of Megamind and in 2015 with an accidental screening of Insidious: Chapter 3 instead of Inside Out.[33]

Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 23% based upon 112 reviews, with an average rating of 4.20/10. The website's consensus stated that "While it does manage to wring a few more screams out of the franchise's surprisingly durable premise, Paranormal Activity 4 provides fans of the series with dismayingly diminishing returns."[34] On Metacritic the film has a score of 40 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[35] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade C, on a scale from A+ to F.[20]

Drew McWeeny gave the film a C+, saying that while he felt that the film "played it safe", he still found the film to be shameful.[36] Shaun Munro also reacted negatively, saying that he felt that the film would only be enjoyed by the "die-hard" fans of the previous films in the franchise.[citation needed] Ryan Lambie reacted negatively, giving the film a rating of 2/5, and saying that the film did not introduce any new ideas.[37] Scott Weinberg gave a positive review, saying that there was "some fun" to be had in the film, also felt that the film would likely only be enjoyed by fans of the previous films. Fred Topel also gave a positive review, saying that the film included iconography from some classic horror films.[38]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 29, 2013.

The post-credits scene teases Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which is a Latino spin-off of the Paranormal Activity series released on January 3, 2014.[39] The post-credits scene was taken out of the film when the DVD was released.


Kathryn Newton won the Young Artist Award in the category Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress at the 34th Young Artist Awards in 2013.[40]


Paranormal Activity 4 was followed by Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, released on January 3, 2014.


  1. ^ "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (15)". British Board of Film Classification. October 9, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Paranormal Activity 4". Box Office Mojo. November 29, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  3. ^ "Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) Movie Script". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (October 23, 2011). "Paramount Exec: 'I Can't Imagine We Wouldn't Make Paranormal 4'". TheWrap. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  5. ^ Miller, Daniel (January 1, 2012). "'Paranormal Activity 4' Will Hit Theaters October 19". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Kevin P. (January 1, 2012). "'Paranormal Activity 4' Confirmed By Paramount". MTV Movie News. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Paranormal Activity 4 Is Official". Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
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  11. ^ Sullivan, Kevin P. (September 27, 2012). "'Paranormal Activity 4' Trailer #2: Five Key Scenes - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". Retrieved October 1, 2012.
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  13. ^ Lee, Youyoung (September 18, 2012). "Stephen Dunham Dead: 'DAG' Actor Dies At 48". Retrieved September 19, 2012.
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  21. ^ a b c Smith, Grady (October 18, 2012). "Box office preview: 'Paranormal Activity 4' will haunt the No. 1 spot". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  22. ^ Horn, John (October 18, 2012). "'Paranormal Activity 4' expects to draw Latino moviegoers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  23. ^ a b Smith, Grady (October 21, 2012). "Box office report: 'Paranormal Activity 4' possesses top spot with $30.2 million despite scary underperformance". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
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  25. ^ Kaufman, Amy (October 21, 2012). "Fourth 'Paranormal' is No. 1, but opens well below predecessors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  26. ^ a b Subers, Ray (October 28, 2012). "Weekend Report: 'Argo' Ahead of Four Dreadful Debuts". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  27. ^ Subers, Ray (October 16, 2012). "Around-the-World Roundup: 'Taken 2' Crushes Predecessor, 'Ted' Sets New Record". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  28. ^ Subers, Ray (October 23, 2012). "Around-the-World Roundup: 'Paranormal 4' Grows Audience Overseas". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  29. ^ Subers, Ray (October 23, 2012). "Around-the-World Roundup: Bond is Back with $80.6 Million Overseas". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  30. ^ Subers, Ray (November 4, 2012). "Around-the-World Roundup: 'Skyfall' Adds Incredible $156 Million Overseas". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  31. ^ "Cinema shows Paranormal Activity instead of Madagascar 3 - Yahoo! Movies UK". October 23, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  32. ^ Hoffer, Steven (October 23, 2012). "Nottingham Movie Theater Shows Paranormal Activity Instead Of Madagascar, Scares Hell Out Of Kids". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  33. ^ "Children see 'Saw 3D' at 'Megamind' screening after cinema mix-up | Film & TV News". NME.Com. November 18, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
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  37. ^ Ryan Lambie (October 5, 2012). "Paranormal Activity 4 review". Den of Geek. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
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  39. ^ Mike Sampson. "'Paranormal Activity 4′ Post Credits Scene: What Just Happened?". ScreenCrush.
  40. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved March 31, 2013.

External linksEdit