‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ Review: The Quest For Closure Takes A Deadly Turn

In 2008 director Oren Pelli helmed the original movie ‘Paranormal Activities,’ which would give birth to the fan favourite long-running paranormal franchise. This horror flick went down in cinematic history books as one of the box office smashers of all times, grossing over $190 million on a $28 million budget. In fact, the entire series has brought in nearly $900 million in the worldwide box office so far. ‘Paranormal Activity’ and it’s follow-ups were produced by the masters of the horror genre Blumhouse Productions who are well known for making lucrative blockbusters at a minimal budget.

After six chapters, the saga is back with its latest installment called ‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ that appears to be a franchise reboot as the last movie was released six years ago. Also in the predecessor, the nasty demon Toby was able to take over a human body. In the process, he erased the timelines in which the previous chapters had taken place; hence, this could either mean a different angle or a totally new demonic threat.

However, this feature can still pass as a sequel when one looks at the slithery timeline of the series. ‘Next of Kin’ stars Emily Bader alongside Rolland Buck II, Dan Lippert and Henry Ayers-Brown among many others. The script for ‘Next of Kin’ was penned by Christopher Landon, the scribe responsible for the sequels and also the genius behind other fantastic horror flicks such as ‘Happy Death’ and ‘Freaky.’ 

William Eubank, who has also been a constant collaborator in the franchise, helmed this terrifying adventure. 

‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ will stream exclusively on Paramount + starting October 29 just in time for the Halloween Weekend.

The first movie in this franchise was quite a straightforward narrative following the story of Katie and Micah living in the suburbs; however, their lives are haunted by a seemingly dark presence. The plot was pretty light; however, the intense tension gradually increased as the series progressed with its subsequent entries. By the time the saga logged its sixth movie ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, in 2015, there were time loops, cults, demons, witches, and ghosts all entangled in the intriguing series. 

In this feature, Margot, played by ‘Charmed’ star Emily Bader learns that she is adopted and comes from the Amish community, which is a group of religious people who practise the old ways. She also finds someone who comes from her family and volunteers to take Margot and her friends back home.

Super excited about this enlightening moment especially the need to find out why her mother abandoned her, she decides to film the entire encounter and make it into a documentary of her life. So she enlists the help of her friend and camera man Chris played by Rolland and Dale apart by Lippert on her voyage. Margot is extremely excited by the welcoming Amish community until creepy things start to happen and her snoopy investigation lands her right in the lion’s den.

When the movie starts, it’s quite an ordinary slow burn documentary kind of a flick. Things seem normal and Margot’s curiosity and her desire to learn more about her roots is intriguing. Until she starts poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and the seemingly peaceful, slow-moving film turns into a full-blown murdering fest in an instant.

The writer does a great job in building up to the action because once it starts; it doesn’t stop until the end, keeping audiences at the edge of their seats. There are plenty of jump scares spread across this movie, so viewers will definitely find their hearts skipping a bit from time to time.

The acting is excellently convincing one can see that the leads are scared to death, when they are running for dear life; the audience can experience their fear. Also when Margot learns about her mother’s heartbreaking story of being shunned by the community she is intensely emotional and the viewers can feel her pain. One can’t help to notice that the character of Margot is pretty ballsy as instead of running away from danger she forges headfirst towards it which makes one wonder whether she is doing it for closure of for shore as a daredevil kind of a thing.

The gorgeous aerial shots that introduce the land occupied by the Amish community are absolutely gorgeous. From the snow fringed rural roadway to the Amish farmhouse, horse-drawn Amish buggy, the thick forests, the sun setting behind a distant foothill and a desolate moonlit country landscape, this area is as vintage as can be. All these exude Stone Age vibes. The buildings are rugged and windswept. The interiors are dull and depressing. The costumes date back to the olden days and the mannerisms of the Amish people are still stuck centuries ago. The shots of Margot’s face to show her emotions are excellent as they help audiences to have that intimate connection.

The editing is swift and witty, piecing the various shots together into this terrifying story. The ambient including the heavy breathing, the footstep thumps, the creaking of doors and wooden steps all these heightens the tension and suspense in the movie. The sound effects and the score also gel amazingly with the various scenes. Goes loud and fast-paced when characters are scared or running away from something, to gentle and mellow when everything seems normal and peaceful.

The demon in the movie is as scary as can be, he has the ability to jump into other people’s bodies and apparently only women from Margot’s bloodline can contain him, but now he is out hinting at another chapter. Interestingly there is a pretty twisted ending for this movie though that the audience will hate to love. One other interesting thing, Margot’s family aren’t who they portray themselves to be.

This movie was shot during the coronavirus pandemic and when the crew is picked from the airport, we can see the characters wearing masks and talking about contracting COVID-19 and getting tested. Not sure what this was meant for as its never seen anywhere else in the entire movie. Could be a way of biding civilization goodbye. However this is lost one the characters enter the Amish community that doesn’t use any technology at all.

‘Next of Kin’ tricks viewers into thinking that it’s a slow horror-thriller until one gets to the climax and then all hell breaks loose and it becomes a nonstop action fest till the end. Though still with the usual horror film clichés, it is a refreshing take on the iconic franchise. It is the perfect movie to watch with family and friends during the upcoming Halloween weekend as ‘Next of Kin’ will definitely scare the pants out of the viewers or have you suspecting members of your clan. Pretty crazy.

SCORE: 7/10

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.