Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Paranormal Activity 4


Watch This Review

We hope you enjoyed this content. Be sure to share it with family and friends you think will enjoy it as well.

Movie Review

The perils of adolescence are legion.

You're dealing with changes to your body, complex emotions, and new expectations in school and at home.

Thank goodness most of us, in our teen years, didn't have to deal with demon possession on top of puberty. Which makes me feel all the worse for poor Alex.

Alex, a pretty 15-year-old girl, has plenty on her lap already. Her parents aren't getting along that well. Her boyfriend is pushing her to get more physical. We can't know what sort of pressures she's dealing with in school but, given the fact that she wanders around her house at 3 a.m., she's probably not getting enough sleep to do well in algebra.

And then there's this kid across the street: Talk about your problem children. Robbie, 6, doesn't seem bad, really. Just a little weird. He sort of hangs off to the side a lot, watching other people do things. And when his mother was apparently rushed to the hospital for a few days (condition: undisclosed) Robbie's care is foisted onto Alex's already strained family. Now he's drawing weird symbols all over Wyatt, Alex's 6-year-old brother, and encouraging the both of them to play with Robbie's "imaginary friend."

"Is he nice?" Wyatt wonders.

"If you do what he says," Robbie answers cryptically.

The best thing about adolescence is that, eventually, you grow out of it. But when demons are around, there's some question whether you'll grow up at all.


Positive Elements

Alex is the moral core of Paranormal Activity 4—or, at least as moral a core as we'll find here. When her father gets into a spot of trouble, she rushes into a strange house to try to help him. And when her little brother says he's in trouble, too, Alex doesn't run the other way and call the cops (as, in retrospect, she probably should've done). Instead, she tries to rescue him.

It's also nice that Alex's family elected to take little Robbie in, though that proves to be a mistake. So it's sad, really, that this movie takes all of our better instincts and punishes our poor protagonists for them.

Spiritual Content

The word paranormal in the title should tip us off that there's something eerie going on here: The movie's entire conceit is based on demonic spirituality.

First, take all the weird symbols Robbie scrawls on Wyatt's chest, back and arms, including one that seems to have special significance. In the movie, we're told that it was an ancient symbol used in a diabolical possession ceremony. The rite involves several steps, including the apparent offering of some sort of virginal sacrifice.

Then there are the women hanging out at Robbie's house. We're not told what they're doing, but it's fairly clear that they're part of a coven. Sometimes they seem neighborly enough. But toward the end, they just sort of lurk en masse, silently looking on as the demon does its work.

Oh, yeah, the demon. (Or, perhaps, demons. It's a little unclear.) It moves furniture around, sends chandeliers crashing to the ground and starts cars in closed garages, nearly killing trapped occupants via carbon monoxide poisoning. It plays with knives and shuts doors and manages to levitate a sleeping 15-year-old girl off her bed. It's not always so gentle, of course, but we'll deal with that momentarily.

Sometimes audiences see a spectral presence that appears to be a little child—a fleeting shadow across the hallway, perhaps, or a ghostly figure swathed in the greenish (and, to the human eye, invisible) points of light from an Xbox Kinect.

And then there's Katie—the possessed woman from the first and second movies—who also haunts the screen. Mostly she looks pretty ordinary, and sometimes she even acts it. But when she's after prey, her face contorts into a demonic visage, complete with freaky eyes and pointy teeth.

After the credits roll, we see a snippet of a Spanish-speaking man walking through a store containing all sorts of religious symbols and icons, from crucifixes to candles. The man's startled by a woman who tells him, in Spanish, that "this is only the beginning." It means, of course, that we can look forward to at least one more installment of Paranormal Activity next year.

Sexual Content

Alex's boyfriend, Ben, places his hand on her thigh, and that contact appears to be a pretty big step for both of them. Alex and Ben never lock lips, but Ben clearly would like to to that—and quite a bit more. During a video chat, he asks Alex to flash her breasts. She refuses, but doesn't seem upset by the request. When they learn that one mysterious rune requires the sacrifice of a virgin, Ben tells Alex, "You're f‑‑‑ed," then half-jokingly offers to take care of her virginity right then and there. When Alex says that Ben could be in trouble, too, he says he's fine because he's already had sex three times (a claim the film suggests is a lie).

When Robbie crawls into bed with Alex and puts his hand on Alex's shoulder—an encounter recorded on Alex's laptop camera—Ben declares that the 6-year-old must be "trying to cop a feel." A crude double entendre is uttered. We see Alex in a T-shirt and boxer shorts (her pajamas), as well as an off-the-shoulder outfit.

Violent Content

Compared to most other R-rated screamfests, the Paranormal Activity series has been relatively gore-free. Its demons don't seem to cotton to blood. But the body count? That's another issue.

In flashback, Katie (wearing a blood-stained tank top) kills her sister by throwing her against the wall. Another character dies after being hurled into the ceiling. (The impact is unseen, but we witness the lifeless body dropping to the floor.) Another person is tossed into several walls before being dragged off into the darkness, never to be seen again. A fourth unfortunate ends up with a snapped neck. (We see the twist.) A nasty-looking demon lunges at someone, and then the video, tellingly, goes dark.

Elsewhere, a boy gets dragged underneath bathwater, where he stays submerged for (seemingly) several minutes before rising, acting somewhat … changed. A knife is whisked off the kitchen counter, hovering apparently for days before dropping back onto the counter (and seriously scaring Alex's dad). A chandelier crashes to the floor.

After levitating for part of the night, Alex wakes up and claims that she feels like she's been hit by a truck. A garage door slams down, trapping Alex in a garage. Then a car starts up and runs for several minutes before Alex bashes one of the car's windows with a golf club and backs the car out through the still-closed garage door.

Crude or Profane Language

"Don't swear!" Robbie admonishes Alex and Ben, suggesting that his "invisible friend," while keen on killing, is no fan of bad language. But the characters here don't listen. The f-word is used about 20 times, and the s-word is uttered half-a-dozen times. Characters misuse both God's name (10 times) and Jesus' name (twice), and they say "a‑‑" and "b‑‑ch."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alex's mom gives Alex a sleeping pill, much to the horror of the girl's father. Both parents drink wine.

Other Negative Elements

Rules aren't well inforced by Alex's parents. And the kids sometimes take advantage of that. When the parents leave for a night out, Alex and Ben have friends over. The get-together is pretty innocent, but it's suggested that it's done behind the parents' backs.

Ben secretly records all of his video chats with Alex, saying his computer just does it automatically. At Alex's request, Ben uses her family's computers to set up a whole-house monitoring system, unbeknownst to Alex's parents.

We hear references to people passing gas in their sleep.


When I was a kid, one of my friends was pretty sure his younger brother was possessed. So, one day, being the dutiful, Christian child that he was, he confronted his 6-year-old sibling, determined to cast out the evil influence.

"I know who you are," my friend said to his bewildered brother.


"Get out of him!" my friend hollered. "Right now!"

Well, this created quite a ruckus, but after my friend's parents sat him down for a little chat (talking, among other things, about the fact that just because someone's eyes look red in a family photo, that doesn't necessarily indicate demon possession) things settled down quickly, with no real harm done.

My friend had never seen a movie about possession, as far as I know. His family was deeply religious, and I'm pretty sure his "inspiration" came from some creative Bible reading paired with his boundless—sometimes overactive—imagination.

I found myself thinking about him and his brother as I walked out of the theater after seeing this film, noticing that the only other people in the movie with me were all under the age of 12. My guess is that these kids—perhaps a half-dozen or so, all told—were dropped off at the local multiplex under false pretenses. Maybe they told their parents they were going to see Hotel Transylvania or Here Comes the Boom, but instead they snuck off to see an R-rated movie filled with bad language, some adolescent sensuality and loads of scary images.

And it's those images that are at issue here. Paranormal Activity 4 tells us that everything—and I mean everything—in our day-to-day lives might hide an unspeakable horror, be it making dinner, taking a bath, going to sleep or playing with an imaginary friend. And that's a message that can easily spark nightmares and waking terrors and flat-out emotional dysfunction.

I doubt that all the kids in the movie with me will automatically assume that their own family members are now in need of an exorcism. But demon possession is perhaps not something we should so casually use as a theme for entertainment. Some may learn to not take it seriously enough. And others—well, they might take it very seriously indeed, which can usher in its own set of problems.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution





Readability Age Range


Horror, Mystery/Suspense



Kathryn Newton as Alex; Matt Shively as Ben; Brady Allen as Robbie; Aiden Lovekamp as Wyatt; Alexondra Lee as Holly; Stephen Dunham as Doug; Katie Featherston as Katie


Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3)


Paramount Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

October 19, 2012


January 29, 2013

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope you enjoyed this content. Be sure to share it with family and friends you think will enjoy it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!