Review by Sean Boelman
There has been a relatively recent trend in the horror genre to capitalize on goodwill from a once-popular property by connecting a series’s title to an otherwise unrelated film. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is the latest attempt to do so, and it’s about as bland of a found footage flick as one expects.
The movie follows a woman who, investigating her family’s past in a secluded Amish community, begins to experience some strange and disturbing occurrences. Ultimately, the film shares more in common with The Blair Witch Project than Paranormal Activity, both in terms of its particular found footage style and its story
Like most found footage movies, the first hour or so of this is extremely slow, only for the last thirty minutes to get much more intense. However, Christopher Landon’s script fails to do much in the way of building tension in that early portion, resulting in an experience that is ultimately rather boring. There are a couple eerie sequences in the final act, but not enough to make it worth watching.
One of the most disappointing things about the film is that it does not have a very interesting setting. The movie is set in a generic Amish community, and not much is done to make it feel distinctive. It’s a bunch of religious people doing weird and occasionally mildly creepy things, which is not an original set-up at all.
The character development in the film is also extremely underwhelming. The audience is expected to connect with the protagonist’s desire to reconnect with her long lost mother, but this arc is so generic that it doesn’t leave much of an impact. And all of the antagonists are all entirely forgettable.
As is the case with the rest of the series, the cast is primarily composed of no-name actors. These are the type of roles that can be as much or as little as the actors make of them, and this cast leans towards the latter. Emily Bader’s performance feels derivative of every other found footage leading performance.
From a technical standpoint, the movie is very standard found footage material. Apart from some solid make-up work in the final third, there isn’t much here that will leave viewers impressed. Instead, most will be left largely unaffected by its plainly cold atmosphere and predictable overuse of shaky cam.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is about as lackluster as one would expect from a very loosely-related standalone film in an already unimpressive series. It’s a shame, because with the talent involved, this had the potential to be a true chiller.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin hits Paramount+ on October 29.