‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ Movie Review – This Reboot Is the Original’s Third Cousin Twice Removed

The Paranormal Activity franchise made significant waves across the horror genre. However, audiences grew tired of the series after several sequels and a spinoff. The found footage supernatural franchise supposedly ended with 2015’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. However, Paramount wanted Blumhouse to bring it back, so they decided to breathe new life into it. The result is a reboot that feels nothing like its predecessors.

‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ has a new threat

'Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin' actor Emily Bader looking out at the snow
Emily Bader | Paramount Players

Margot (Emily Bader) lives a pretty normal life. However, she seeks to learn more about where she came from. Margot found footage of her mother leaving her at a hospital as a baby, but something doesn’t seem right. She decides to return to the Amish community that her mother was from and make a documentary about it.

Christopher Landon’s screenplay hints at Margot’s growing concerns. She ultimately finds an ominous church in the forest with strange markings that introduce a new demon named Asmodeus. Margot must discover the community’s secrets before it’s too late.

‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ is human-centric

'Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin' Dan Lippert, Henry Ayres-Brown, Tom Nowicki, and Emily Bader eating dinner with candles lit
L-R: Dan Lippert, Henry Ayres-Brown, Tom Nowicki, and Emily Bader | Paramount Players

Toby was the demon in the previous installments. He served as the focus for the franchise’s terror, but the same can’t be said for Asmodeus. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin relies on the community for both its narrative and creep factor. Many members of the community go unnamed, so Margot and her crew are the only characters to grasp onto. However, they seem to be far too willing to stay after their stay turns sour without even having the thought of simply leaving. But, very little of that terror is a result of anything paranormal.

The Paranormal Activity franchise previously introduced a cult of witches. Little is known about them, as they weren’t given much detail. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin does the exact opposite and focuses on the group rather than the demon. It entertains a solid horror movie concept that plays with what audiences have come to expect from the franchise. However, it isn’t as chilling as it likes to think it is. There are a few jump scares, but the tension just isn’t there.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin doesn’t pick up the pace until the third act. Asmodeus’ mythology is further explained and bigger stakes are established. There’s one specific turn of events that is particularly inventive and exciting. However, the movie flounders around for too long before getting to that point. The third act’s dangers needed to be present earlier in the movie. As it stands, the story is simply stalling for time.

A potential new start for the franchise

'Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin' star Emily Bader as Margot looking terrified in night vision
Emily Bader | Paramount Players

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin rids itself of the franchise’s calling cards. Director William Eubank switches between traditional movie direction and documentary footage, although the video and audio quality is a significant improvement over the handheld cameras and laptops used in previous installments. Eubank got rid of the long shots of still rooms that had audiences sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for a door to close on its own.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin introduces a clear path to a franchise. However, only time will tell if this reboot will hook audiences enough to warrant more entries. The setting’s creepiest locations are toss-away scenes that don’t capitalize on their own atmosphere. There isn’t anything necessarily scary or skin-crawling going on here.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is far from the franchise’s best installment, but it’s also not the worst. It tries to breathe new life into the series, but it actually redefines it. Not everything works, but there are solid concepts in the third act that just need more time to linger and develop. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is a bit of a missed opportunity to really go all-out, as this reboot is too indistinct. It can hardly be considered kin to this particular IP.

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