By now the basis of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, concerning Katie's possession by a demonic force that results in a series of malevolently haunted houses, is well-known to those who care to follow each new iteration. The fourth installment adds very little new information while playing out the inevitably unpleasant outcomes that await the characters, preferring to recycle plot elements from previous films. Asymmetrically framed scenes, staccato editing techniques and oppressive ambient sound (and the ominous lack of a score) are substituted for any real narrative development, leaving a plot essentially consisting of a series of setups followed by frightening payoffs. Weak attempts to introduce a smattering of satanic symbology are belatedly superfluous. It's just such lack of creative investment that inevitably leads to further sequels, if a theatrical audience can actually be sustained going forward.
— Justin Lowe, Associated Press