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Paranormal Activity 3 Review

Though coming off of a
shocking sleeper hit, and a massive opening weekend for the sequel, one still
has to wonder how long the “Paranormal Activity” template can last, let alone
the found footage genre as a whole, considering the sudden influx of these
shaky-cam horror flicks. Regardless if it crumbles tomorrow or next decade, Paranormal Activity 3 is a continually
gripping exercise in terror, exquisitely executed at more than one point and
overall a surprisingly strong third entry in the franchise.

For those who have any interest in seeing this threequel, and have been humming and hawing
as to whether a journey to the theater is worth it, I assure you that the
cineplex is the place to check this
one out and more than worth your ten bucks. Though my theater was crammed with
those of the early to mid-teen generation (not always the purest indicator of
quality to be sure), as the screen went dark at the end, enough shouts of
appreciation and a hearty round of applause showed that this haunted house
thriller did what it promised and perhaps more.

I seek out pretty much
every horror flick I can as they debut over the course of a regular year, be
they large star-studded efforts, smaller independent features or foreign
frights, and I can honesty say Paranormal
Activity 3
made me jump more than any film has – ever. And that is quite a
feat, believe you me. I have become so jaded and desensitized over the years
that even the more elaborate boo scare of the year will leave me only slightly
jolted. In this case, despite making me wet myself thoroughly on at least ten occasions, I
remained white knuckled and corpse-still in my seat as the “non-events”
unfolded. Everything that slowly entered the frame made my teeth grind back in
the other direction: *inhale!* Whew, just a lamp *exhale*. *Inhale!* Whew, just
a sofa. A sequence where dear ol’ dad sets up a camera on the oscillator from a
fan in order to give coverage of two rooms which kept the frame moving eerily
almost serves as a creative way around editing in a film that is not supposed
to have any. Simply, I give kudos to a film that can keep me on edge like that
for the duration.

What brings Paranormal Activity 3 down from the
level of near-triumph (besides the obvious wear and tear of the technique) is
an ending that abandons any subtlety with a vengeance and becomes a tad too
corny for its own good. Existing as a prequel, the events surrounding the
“beginnings” of the events of “Activity 1 and 2” make little sense and veer off
in directions bordering on the ludicrous; subtlety is always the way to proceed
in a horror movie. Leading up to the events of this climax, as the husband (Christopher
Nicholas Smith) of our three person family sets up cameras to catch the bumps
in the night, his wife (Lauren Bittner) dismisses him far too quickly despite
definitive proof, caught on film, that something sinister is afoot. I realize a
movie like this would not exist without a reason to stay in said haunted abode,
but the convention has become a tad grating over the years.


When examining the $15,000
minor miracle that was the original, it is clear as day that it still remains
the most creative, atmospheric and creepy (and ultimately the best) of the
three, but I’m sure you have concluded by now that I no longer find it the scariest.
The noises that accompany the scares are not some grand orchestral blast that
we normally expect, but the sound caught on camera: a plate falling, a door
slamming, a girl screaming. While this tactic remains, subtlety and the greatly
stripped-down style of filmmaking from director Oren Peli is replaced by a
slightly more polished and grand production that still carries very much the
same vibe that characterizes this franchise, but is less subtle and
spooky. Replacing Peli are the directors of the (fake?) documentary Catfish, and they have a good handle on
what people want with a movie like this and are competent filmmakers to boot,
which is always a plus in any studio effort.

Not only is this third
installment the most jarring experience of the bunch, it is also the funniest,
thanks in no small part to the excellent cast of unknowns. These breaks in
tension, while initially comforting, only serve as a false cushion for the next
big fright. Standing out among the cast are the two young siblings played by Chloe
Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown. The inclusion of child actors, especially at
the forefront, can immediately sink any effort if they are not up to the task,
but let me tell you they pull
these difficult parts off better than their adult counterparts. Even if the thought of this (and
future) sequels gives people the shivers on principle alone, if you give this
one a chance, it is bound to scare you more than the thoughts of a dozen
sequels ever will – probably.


Rating 7.5/10

Paranormal Activity 3
Directed by Henry Joost
and Ariel Schulman
Written by Christopher B.
Starring Lauren Bittner, Christopher
Nicholas Smith, Jessica Tyler Brown and Chloe Csengery


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