The Paranormal Activity franchise seems to have been put out to grass; while the first two instalments were global super-hits, the latest trickles out onto sofa-streaming without much fanfare. The demon Asmodeus is the only returning character here, and even such a presence should be thinking about getting a new agent; that said, Next of Kin isn’t as bad as might be expected, and at least takes us off in a fresh if not original direction.
Written by Christopher Landon and directed by William Eubank, Next of Kin is another found-footage story, this time following Margot (Emily Bader) as she returns to the Amish community that her mother was part of. Except these are not Amish people in any way, they’re not even Hittities or Huttities, they’re straight-up devil worshippers, and no good can come of Margot’s return. The discovery of a boarded up church that conceals a giant hole that leads down to an underground cavern that might be inhabited by Asmodeus himself when he’s chilling….
Although the first two Paranormal films managed to provide an effective ghost-train ride, they’ve been quickly forgotten, largely because their gnarly home-video aesthetic proved to be as short-lived as Blair Witch shakycam. But Eubank wisely ups the ante in terms of the gear that Margot’s band of film-makers have, and Next of Kin actually looks rather smart. And there’s a few chilling moments; an elderly lady sits at the window, smiling as she peels potatoes; on closer inspection, she’s peeling the skin from her own hands with her knife.
Next of Kin even has a half-decent ending as Asmodeus packs his bags and sets out for new environs; as always with horror films, he’s got great powers but only seems to use them intermittently as the plot requires. Probably best seen as a stand-alone film, Next of Kin is a passable horror entry, but it’s going to take more than nice photography to change the fortunes of this wayward franchise.