In Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, a young woman called Margot sets out to make a documentary about her life, after she discovers her birth family are part of the Amish community. Taking her friends Chris and Dale with her, she travels to a Pennsylvanian farm, which once provided a home to her birth mother, to get some information for her film.
Margot and her friends are initially welcomed onto the farm and for the first couple of days they integrate themselves into the community – sharing meals, taking part in activities, and even trying on some Amish clothing. But the more time they spend on the farm, the more they begin to witness some unusual behaviour.
As the trio begin to explore their surroundings, they uncover some troubling secrets, suggesting the residents are not who they seem to be. Could Margot and her friends be putting themselves in grave danger and will she find the answers to her past she is searching for?
Directed by William Eubank, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is the seventh entry in the Paranormal Activity horror franchise. The film made its debut in the US back in October 2021, when it was released directly onto the Paramount+ streaming service, just in time for Halloween.
However, for those of us who live in the UK, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin was not released last year, and is only now making its way to these shores. Should you want to check it out, the film is currently available to rent or buy as a digital title, which can be purchased through all major retail platforms.
Of course, before you dive head first into the movie, you may wonder if you need to re-watch the previous six instalments to refresh your memory of what came before. Well, unless you have a deep desire to work your way through the back catalogue of films, you really don’t need to worry, as this latest entry has nothing to do with those other movies.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is a reboot of the series; ignoring parts one through six. All that stuff about Katie, Kristi, and Tobi from the other movies does not apply here and can be carefully pushed out of your mind.
Now, as someone who has a fondness for the Paranormal Activity series, I must say I’m a little disappointed to see the old continuity abandoned; however, I do understand the commercial reasons behind this decision. The PA films have a convoluted and somewhat confusing continuity, which is no doubt off-putting to newcomers, so a complete refresh of the property kind of makes sense.
The important thing is that if a studio reboots a franchise, it comes up with something that can knock the socks off the audience, to convince them a complete overhaul was the right decision. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here, and as a fan of these films, I’m sorry to say this is a reboot that misses the mark.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is slow, occasionally annoying, and not scary in the slightest. It sings from a similar hymn sheet to its predecessors, so at times feels like a Paranormal Activity movie, but remove the name from the title and this could be any found footage horror – and not a particularly good one at that.
The jump scares don’t work, there is zero suspense, and any ounce of tension that might have been written into the script is nowhere to be seen on screen. In fact, tension has taken a vacation and is as far away from this movie as possible.
If you can make it through the vast majority of the movie without being bored, well done. I checked my watch multiple times to see how long was left, which is odd really, as I don’t own a watch.
Things do ramp up a gear during the final twenty minutes of the movie, but even when the story adopts a new tactic of throwing everything at the screen (and I do mean everything), it simply becomes an overload of activity. People start screaming, there’s some shouting, a bit of running around, and some kind of demon, but none of it works.
For a couple of minutes during this section of the movie, I forgot I was watching a Paranormal Activity film and wondered if I had walked onto one of those outdoor ‘scare attractions’ instead. I half expected someone in an ill-fitting, moth-eaten clown costume to jump out at me from behind a bush, but alas it didn’t happen.
So, I was left to drift back into the events of the movie which seemed something of a crushing blow in contrast. Despite an increase in action, the ending of the film did nothing to improve what came before, and boredom was still ever present.
The only thought that was on my mind at this point was the question: Why is anyone still filming this stuff? And I don’t mean the production team, who presumably were paid to make this lacklustre affair, but rather the characters who were inexplicably still shooting footage, under the pretence of making a ‘documentary’.
I know this is something quite common with found footage films, whereby characters continue filming long after they should, but most films in this subgenre just about get away with this sort of thing. For me, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin doesn’t get away with it, and any inch of reality was chucked out of the window midway through the film.
On the plus side (hey, I want to say at least one positive thing about this movie), I think the Amish angle is a neat touch. With the central characters trapped in a location with limited access to modern technology, this part of the story offers something different to what we have seen before, and this is something I like.
But that’s pretty much all I can say when it comes to positive praise. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is not a good movie and feels like a waste of time.
Perhaps what frustrates me the most is that this film was written by Christopher Landon, who not only wrote four of the previous instalments, but also served as writer/director on some great movies including Happy Death Day (2017), Happy Death Day 2U (2019), and Freaky (2020) – movies I like very much. I’m not quite sure what happened with Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, but it is not a patch on any of those films.
It’s fair to say I am not a fan of Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin and I think I’ve made this very clear. While I understand why Paramount attempted something new with this film, it just doesn’t work.
If you are going to use the brand name to pull in audiences, while offering something different, then at least come up with something worthwhile. This film feels devoid of any originality, is frankly quite lazy in places, and as far as the horror goes, it never quickened my pulse, not even once.
I could make some joke about this film being largely about paranormal ‘inactivity’, but I can’t be bothered. The film is dull, that’s all you need to take away from this review.