PARANORMAL ACTIVITY – NEXT OF KIN – review

Found-ish Footage Review

Can I tell ya that we are in a weird time when a movie from a successful horror franchise just sorta pops onto a seconday streaming service and outside of the hadcore genre press doesn’t get much notice at all.

Super weird.

Not surprising when this is a reboot of a modern franchise that sorta went out on a dud but still, weird.

What we have here is one of your reboot deals.

The originals did their thing and ran their course and, for better or worse, told the story they were trying to tell, but it’s still a reboot. Essentially it’s MOSTLY a found footage film (there’s a sequence where they put music to it so that was weird, and there are moments where it’s like…WHO is shooting this and HOW? it can still fall into found footage but this stuff fell into the Come On Guys category for me) with a new batch of fools with cameras digging into stuff that most folks with a lick of sense wouldn’t mess with but hey, there’d be no new franchise if they did that so…

LET’S DO THIS THING!

NEXT OF KIN picks up with a young woman who is trying to track down the family she never knew. She was abandoned at a hospital by her mother and grew up never having any connection to anyone outside of her adoptive family. Desperate to connect to her past, she manages to track down someone who would know how to get her in touch with her family – a cousin that has left the very family she wants to reuinite with. It turns out that the woman’s mother was part of an Amish community and had left with her daughter and then ditched her at the local hospital. POW! The young woman wants to capture the reunion for a documentary – everyone’s making docs these days, THESE KIDS AND THEIR DOCS! – so she enlists the help of a friend and then hires a third to help with sound. The reunion gets off on an awkward foot as the cousin tries to reconnect this woman with her grandfather bt is rebuffed. When one of the young people from the community turns up at their motel and they take him back home they are finally welcomed and begin to get to know everyone there. They are outsiders but are treated well and they immediately feel welcomed. Something is strange in the community though. They are hearing strange noises. They see people out gathered together outside in the middle of the night. They witness the grotesque birth and then murder of a two headed goat. And things are just getting warmed up. Worst of all is that the young woman is starting to believe that her mother may not have actually left the community and is still there somewhere, buried among the many secrets.

Kudos for a new crew and a new setting. Heck, I actually like that they went with a clean break from the original movies and are doing something different. There are some great scares here. A couple gross outs. And there’s a ton of atmosphere. The characters are decent though the ‘community’ is very much a series of stereotypes of people we have all seen in any number of Hollywood representations of the Amish. I was going to take umbrage of the othering of a people that are already given then google eye but, well, just tuck in and you’ll see. It’s fine.

The biggest issue I have is that the film feels TOO stylized.

Like, half of what makes found footage so effective and immediate is that it’s folks with cameras.

The more tricks you do – there’s a scene where they show that the camera can do super slow motion shots just to set up a gag later that made no sense at all to the film’s flow – the more it brings me out of the immediacy of the film. Maybe that’s just me because the movie looks great and there is some great setups.

The film has a pretty bugnuts climax and it feels like it would have played really well in theaters so it’s a shame that its life is lived on streaming. While some of the wrap up can elicit a shrug or two, it works, and it sets things up well…or doesn’t. It’s a decent end.

This is not perfect, and doesn’t capture the magic of the best of the series, but it’s a decent entry and worth a look for fans of found footage or the series as a whole. Despite what naysayers may tell you, it’s decent, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Not as good as the best of the series but much more satisfying than the last one, to be sure.

Give it a look.

3 out of 5

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