Monday, October 24, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

The original Paranormal Activity produced the most mortifying experience I’ve ever had in a movie theater.  No question.  At the midnight showing I attended there were screams, tears, walk-outs, vomit, you name it. People were seriously freaked, myself included.  It was a palpable fear unlike anything I’d ever experienced.  It was pure, horrific bliss.

Last year’s Paranormal Activity 2 did what most sequels do: it upped the ante; hoping more money spent would equate to more thrills achieved.  That film, while not without its fair share of scares (the simultaneous opening of every door and cabinet in the kitchen was brilliant), didn’t come close to matching its predecessor’s ingenuity.

Now we’re given the inevitable Paranormal Activity 3, an even more expensive outing of the same story using the same cheap-looking techniques.

Part one told the story of Katie and Micah, whose suburban home was being plagued by an unrelenting ghost.  Part two followed Katie’s sister Kristi’s sufferings with the same demon during the same period of time as the first film.  For part 3, we go back to the sisters’ childhood to see how it all began.

It doesn’t take long for Julie and her live-in boyfriend, Dennis, to realize young Katie and Kristi’s constant ramblings about a ghost aren’t to be ignored.  Dennis, projecting the alpha male prototype as presented in the first two films, wastes no time setting up cameras throughout the house to capture the creepiness.  The difference here is that this is 1988 and anyone who knows anything about home video cameras knows that the quality achieved by the cameras used in Paranormal Activity 3 is so far superior anything sold in electronic stores at the time, that it makes for a very large distraction.  But hey, it’s okay, Dennis is a wedding videographer, so obviously he has the best stuff around.  Solved!

Look, Paranormal Activity 3 is freakier than all hell in a sold-out theater of screaming viewers.  In the moment, you’re going to be scared.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good film, or even a worthy horror film.

There are plenty of jumps to be had (though not as many as the first two) and a neat gimmick of strapping a camera to the top of a standing fan, but by the end, I was left wanting more.

Much has been made about the film’s final 15 minutes, which are scary, sure, but not anything you won’t be able to shake the minute you leave the theater.  In fact, I found the end to be far too convenient; it takes all the mystery out of the first film, which is a damn shame.

One final topic of discussion: I bitch a lot about the dying art of the movie trailer.  If you watch the trailer for this film, it looks as though they give most of the frights away.  Not the case.  In fact, 90 percent of what's used in the trailer below is not in the final film. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet.

No matter, given this film’s incredible opening weekend, the Paranormal Activity saga will undoubtedly slug forth for years on end.  Just imagine what the first film would be had they left the series alone.  C


  1. So many good reviews I'm reading of this flick. Wish I hadn't scarred my partner in movie watching for life by subjecting her to Wolf Creek. Got to wait for the DVD (and watch it alone!) now. Interesting that you say 'In the moment, you’re going to be scared. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good film' I felt exactly this way about Insidious.

  2. GREAT example of "Insidious," that's exactly what I'm talking about.

    Funny story about showing her Wolf Creek... horror definitely isn't my preferred genre, but I thought that movie was pretty decent.

    What did you think at the first two Paranormals?

  3. Loved the first, liked the second, loved the original 'Bloody Mary' trailer for the third but was really worried that as it's a prequel it would suck. Pleased to hear it's satisfying most so far.

    Yep Insidious had some brilliant creepy moments and jumps but overall is far from a great film. But then again.. what makes a great horror film if not creepy stuff and jumpy bits!?

  4. I loved the first film, and I quite liked the second film (mainly because of that kitchen scene, which almost made me shit my pants), but I think I'll be waiting for the DVD of this one. Sequels are bad enough, but prequels are always awful.

  5. Sounds like we're all on the same page. First one was fantastic, second was good not great, third is perfectly suitable for DVD.

  6. Definitely better than the second one and even though it’s a little bit of the same thing around again, it still is totally freaky and has so many chilling moments that will stay in your mind forever. Good review Alex.

  7. I guess I liked this one better than the second one... I'm not sure. The night vision basement bit in PA2 really annoyed me, but the dad's death scene was legit.

    PA1 scared me beyond words and stayed with me for days (weeks). PA2 and PA3 haven't done that at all to me.