The original “Paranormal Activity” was honestly one of the best execution of POV style cinematography I’ve seen. I admit that it had its rough spots, but for a measly $ 15,000, you have to acknowledge the genius of the filmmakers for coming up with such a creation that generated a $ 85 million box-office take. The second movie, while I liked it, abandoned the raw and rough atmosphere of looking like ‘actual footage’. It felt more like a polished movie with camera footages supposed taken from home security cameras and handycams. It answered several questions as to why and what as to what haunted Katie in the first movie and now with this third movie, the viewer is taken deeper into the horrific story of Katie and Kristie when they were kids.
If you’ve seen the trailers, forget about it. Either some of those scenes were alternate scenes or they were there to merely misdirect the viewer. Many of the scenes seen in the trailer were not in the movie, and the movie does totally abandon the fears of the viewer that “all the best scenes were seen in the trailer” because most of the scenes in the trailer weren't even in the movie. I believe director Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost made the right approach in going a different way; the viewer is much more taken by surprise and it gives the movie a level of unpredictability. This third movie is more of a prequel to the events of the original and the second film.
The movie begins when a leftover footage of Katie and Kristie (Katie Featherston and Sprague Gayden) were being played, a year after Kristie’s house had been burglarized and the tapes were stolen. Then the action shifts to 1988, when Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristie were just mere kids, and their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas) were living under the same roof. Much of the footages are all about happy times, until Dennis notices a strange image after an earthquake. From then on, using a bunch of VHS tapes that works for 6-8 hours, Dennis begins to document the strange and odd happenings around the house, as Kristie (Jessica Tyler Brown) seemed to have an ‘imaginary friend’ called Toby….
Fans of this horror movie franchise would be familiar with the overall set up of the story. I have to admit to a certain degree, that movies about children and how they are susceptible to spiritual haunting feel cliché, and truly while the film is more or less, about protecting Katie and Kristie from demonic forces, the hand-held camera style do aid in the film’s enjoyment and it does feel fairly convincing. The second film gave hints of a certain kind of spell, and this third movie gives the groundwork established some much more needed sense of credibility. The supposed footage certainly looked like something shot on standard 35 mm, though some scenes looked sharper than others most especially the close ups and major scare scenes’. I liked the ‘moving fan’ explanation so that the cameras could cover much more space. The direction wanted to show more with little doubts as to how Dennis pulled it off. (It also makes sense in the 80’s that he works with videos of special events). The clothes, the hair styles, the furniture and televisions all reflect the time in the 80's, so I had no issues buying into it.
If you are looking for scares and creepy atmosphere, this film does have several ways to give you goosebumps. I have to say, the “Paranormal Activity” series seemed to know how to pull off haunted house scare factor. They are simple and yet they are easily related to; in many ways, I feel that the tone and mood of the film matched the “supernatural docos” we’ve seen on TV, and the script by Christopher Landon channels factors seemingly inspired by both those established concepts and even some minor influence from Japanese horror films. Furniture moving, ordinary household things appearing out of nowhere, broken stuff, and even doors insanely shaking are what you are into in this film. It does handle some original “Poltergeist” effects that I really liked and I was made to wonder, at what point would you have left the house?
This time around, as an opposite to the other movies, Julie is the skeptic while Dennis reviewing the tapes, becomes the believer. I know it is all about cliché but trust me (actually more 80's movie cliche), supernatural occurrences really do provoke some character stereotype in real life. There are some issues with the acting, as I felt at times that they weren’t convincing enough in the performances. There were some things in the script that I questioned, but I suppose it is possible. Of the two, Katie seems to be the character that is better written. Not to say that she took the spotlight, but she is in many ways the victim and so it does make a weird kind of sense. The two kids perform admirably with what they have with their roles.
“Paranormal Activity 3” may not be the most perfect horror film you’ll find these days, but it is a good chapter in the saga and may even be slightly better than the first sequel. I feel that the movie cements the fact that you may have to see all the films to really enjoy it, and like some films, the existing trilogy should be judged as one. There is a hint for a “Paranormal Activity 4” since this chapter doesn’t answer all the groundwork set by the filmmakers and if there is one, I believe I will be in for it. I just wonder whatever happened to the release of the Foreign-produced sequel called “Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Nights”? But hey, it’ll get to America when it gets here….
** out of **** Oren Peli's majorly successful "Paranormal Activity" was a found-footage horror movie about a young LA couple - Mica and Katie - who set up cameras all over their house in an attempt to capture what the lady suspects might be ghostly activity. They learned that there was indeed a spirit (and they learned that the hard way), although it wasn't specific to the house; it seemed to follow Katie wherever she went, and we're told that she started having these experiences … more
Star Rating: The first movie scared the living hell out of me. The second movie, not so much. We’ve now reached the third movie, and while I maintain that horror movies should be judged by their ability to frighten and not by their status as franchise pushers, I have to admit that some of my faith has been restored. Although Paranormal Activity 3 is in many ways as clichéd as its predecessor, and although a few of the much publicized explanations … more