Critics Consensus: 'Paranormal Activity 4' offers up stale scares

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This week at the movies, we've got ghostly video recordings ("Paranormal Activity 4", starring Katie Featherston and Kathryn Newton) and a killer on the loose ("Alex Cross", starring Tyler Perry and Edward Burns). What do the critics have to say?

"Paranormal Activity 4"


The first three "Paranormal Activity" films were able to wring a surprising amount of scares out of purported found footage from stationary cameras. However, all good things must come to an end, and critics say "Paranormal Activity 4" finds the franchise repeating itself, offering some decent shocks but mostly recycling the elements that worked better before.

Alex (Kathryn Newton) is a teenager who notices a strange new kid in the neighborhood. When the boy's mother is hospitalized, he moves in with Alex's family - and seems to bring a strange curse with him. The pundits say "Paranormal Activity 4" is pretty creepy, but the sense of surprise is gone -- it's the first entry that feels formulaic.

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"Alex Cross"


Despite the middling critical response to "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider," detective Alex Cross gets another shot at big screen glory. Unfortunately, critics say "Alex Cros"s is a thoroughly generic action thriller, and Tyler Perry lacks the gravitas Morgan Freeman brought to the title role previous installments. Cross is a Detroit cop on the trail of the sadistic serial killer Picasso (Matthew Fox), whose targets are comprised of the city's elite. Soon, however, the mystery becomes personal as the killer threatens Cross' loved ones.

The pundits say "Alex Cross" is plagued by underdeveloped characters, big gaps in logic, and an overabundance of clichés. (Check out this week's Total recall, in which we count down co-star Jean Reno's best-reviewed films.)