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‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ Review: Still Recording

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“Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin,” the latest sequel, reboot or byproduct of the durable found-footage franchise, brings the series into the Covid-19 era and into Amish country, where you hope that none of the visiting, quickly maskless outsiders are bringing the disease. The adopted Margot (Emily Bader) is making a documentary about meeting her biological family. Her birth mother, who abandoned her — as seen in hospital security-cam video that is mystifyingly never revisited — was shunned by her farm community after getting pregnant.

The lack of electricity could pose an interesting challenge for Margot’s two-person crew, but mostly not so much; that’s what a generator is for. While the image quality has improved since the original installment, released in 2009, the proliferation of small cameras (there’s even drone work here) allows the director, William Eubank, to get lax about observing the fixed perspectives that made these movies scary to begin with. When Margot asks Chris (Roland Buck III) to use a pulley to lower her into a secret shaft in a church that an elder (Tom Nowicki) has warned them not to enter, and that obviously leads to something hellish, any cutting or alternation of point of view constitutes a misstep.

Absent formal rigor, the “Paranormal Activity” concept doesn’t offer much else. Here we get mysterious thumps from an attic, overly poised children, an old woman who peels her hand instead of a potato and, finally, generic-looking special effects that violate the D.I.Y. spirit of the enterprise.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Rated R. Creepy farm activity. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Watch on Paramount+.

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