Dir. William Eubank
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Seven years after THE GHOST DIMENSION, the once considered closed PARANORMAL ACTIVITY saga is reopened once more with NEXT OF KIN. Like THE MARKED ONES, this instalment is not related to Katie and feels like a very abstract addition to the series outside of the found footage style and atmospheric score.
Margot (Emily Bader), a young woman who was abandoned by her mother as a baby, travels to a secluded Amish community with a documentary film crew seeking answers about her mother and extended family. As the film's connection tot he PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series suggests, all is not as it seems and not soon after moving in, do the communities truths start surfacing in horrific cult fashion.
From the outset, the hosts alienation from society is tense and feels like a blend of THE VILLAGE and MIDSOMMAR and the Gen-z crew already feel victim to a world they do not understand. Unlike Netflix's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, this instalment knows how to give us a well written youthful cast and as such the feeling of dread is felt for them as soon as they arrive to the colony. Fortunately, while the film never pretends it's linked to previous events, it has the privilege to stand on its own merits. As such it's an inventive found footage film that brings some real chilling mythology and drama to the screen. It never quite becomes strong enough to outshine any previous entry however frustratingly it begs the question (apart from marketing) as to why it would even be a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film.
Many will watch this with an expectation or querying mind as to how it picks up the events after THE GHOST DIMENSION but there are no answers to be found here as neither Margot, or her Amish roots ever touch on the franchise events that precede it. With echoes of the franchise under the shimmering yet low vibrations of the soundtrack or the time cards layered throughout, there is an element and strange semblance of the familiar and yet it's worlds apart from the happenings of the series. Even THE MARKED ONES, while becoming more comedic than the core entries, still came full circle but here the themes and visuals have moved more with the times and take away suspense once the true keepings of the communities secrets come to light.
Luckily for NEXT OF KIN, it doesn't rely on the previous misgivings and actually is one of the better entries for PARANORMAL ACTIVTY and once more will be a welcome addition to horror fans but those expecting some continuation of the saga will have a bitter pill to swallow here.