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Though fans and critics alike believe that the Paranormal Activity series is becoming tiresome, this year, we welcome the seventh instalment to the franchise, Paranormal Activity: Next Of Kin. This time around we follow Margot, a documentary filmmaker who visits a secluded Amish community hoping to find out more about her long-lost Mother and family. However, after strange occurrences begin to rattle herself and her friends, she quickly realises the community may not be who they say they are.

Written by Becca Johnson

The cast of characters that Next of Kin gives us are pretty likeable, which in turn creates a fairly likeable watch. The three friends have a great dynamic, and any humour and laughs put forward feel natural. Emily Bader is great as Margot, a character who we see meeting her supposed blood relatives for the very first time in her life. The characters may not be the most memorable, yet the performances are extremely believable.

Though this is the seventh instalment, Next of Kin tries to feel fresh and unique. It takes us to a cold and secluded town where an Amish community reside, the setting adding another layer of fear for our characters. There's no-one around them, they're completely isolated, and the conditions are freezing. Though the horror plays out in the same way as its predecessors – camera's panning to dark corners, jump scares, gradual possession of the main character – this is what we know and love from the franchise. Though many will find it fun to see again, others will feel like they've seen this movie frequently before. Unfortunately, Next of Kin seems full to the brim with jump scares, not all of them landing and hardly any of them managing to invoke true fear unto the audience.

The Paranormal Activity franchise is known and appreciated for its use of found footage. However, Next of Kin doesn't fully utilise this, as many of the shots present here are not filmed in found footage format. Not only does this make the movie lose its best asset, but it simply doesn't make sense. We are following three individuals who are making a documentary in a secluded community, therefore we should only see shots that they produce from their cameras. The shots that aren't found footage change the whole dynamic of the movie, snapping the audience out of the zone and creating a jarring watch.

Another aspect that makes many of Next of Kin's predecessors so successful, particularly the first few, is that we rarely see the true evil; we see the outcome from lights flickering, picture frames smashing and duvets being ripped away from our characters bodies. Unfortunately, Next of Kin falls into creature feature territory, leaving little to the imagination. Once you've seen the evil at work it loses its scare factor, and the creature design itself is fairly weak. This made for a lacklustre finale, which is a shame as the build-up during the first two acts was relatively effective and fear inducing.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin was not a complete waste of time, and is arguably one of the best of the franchise since the third instalment back in 2011. The characters were enjoyable to watch, the performances were believable, the Amish community allowed for a unique premise and it had a good amount of fear factor. However, the underutilization of found footage is completely unforgivable, causing the movies best asset to become its weakest link. Furthermore, the use of jump scares became tiresome and by the end, it seemed to follow exactly the same script as the movies that came before it.


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