I loved Paranormal Activity 1. It was made on the cheap for 15, 000$ with the actors being cast on Craigslist and still managed to be hip and frightening. It was successful enough to make it off the indie circuit, into select theatres, and eventually into almost all major theatres. In the end it made over 194 million dollars world-wide and dethroned Saw as the “go to” horror movie of the year, and since then we have gotten a new Paranormal Activity every October. Paranormal Activity 2 saw a much larger budget, but it still managed to keep a sense of the originals values, although depending on who you ask some people weren’t as thrilled with it. Paranormal Activity 3 succeeds and fails at carrying the torch forward, but eventually all horror movie sequels start to run out of steam. The question is “Does Paranormal Activity 3 have enough steam to keep the franchise fresh?”. Hit the jump below to find out.
Paranormal Activity 3 starts off confusing. Even having seen the previous films I was a bit confused as to where in the Paranormal Activity timeline the intro was taking place. I think it starts off in the middle of the second movie… And the second movie was before the first movie… until the end…. because then it’s after the first movie…. Sooooooooo yea, Paranormal Activity 3 starts off in the middle of the second movie where they find some old VHS tapes and then the rest of the movie takes place in 1988.
Pretty much it is the story of the women, Katie and Kristi, from Paranormal Activity 1 and 2 when they are little girls. So it also happens to be the story of their parents as well, with the step-father, Dennis, being an all around nice guy who films weddings and their mother, Julie, being a generally nice person too. Stuff gets a little strange from the get go with Katie having an imaginary friend. Never trust little children or imaginary friends in horror movies, especially when they are in league with one another. Pretty soon after the “imaginary” friend Toby is introduced, Dennis and Julie decide to make a sex tape. Alright, now this movie is getting somewhere.
The sex tape is then interrupted by an earthquake, and the next day when Dennis is checking the footage he notices that some falling dust seems to fall onto the shoulders of… something. What could this invisible something be? Welllll, you never really get told much actually. Just know that invisible dude Toby is kinda a dick. Dennis then sets up a bunch of cameras to investigate and yadda yadda yadda, same thing as the other two lol.
That’s your basic plot for this one. There’s a ghost. He is invisible. He is a jerk. And there are witches. Oh wait? Witches? That’s new for the Paranormal Activity series. Yep. Witches. They also aren’t explained very much.
So my biggest compliment and complaint for Paranormal Activity 3 is that a bunch of things jump out at you and go BOO! It’s filled with cheap scare tactics, but they happen to be very good cheap scare tactics. You can see them coming from a mile away and the movie even tries to let you know when something is gonna pop out…. and it still scares you. Gone are the slow creeping scares from Paranormal Activity 1 and the frantic break neck scares from Paranormal Activity 2. Paranormal Activity 3 is like a haunted house, because when you are in it, you know things are going to pop out at you and they still manage to scare you, but once you leave you turn to your friends and go “Okay, that was cool I guess. You guys want to go do something else now?”.
The scares really are functional though. In a packed theatre, almost every scare resulted in fifteen or twenty girls shrieking at maximum capacity, followed by everyone laughing at how fun it is to hear other people freak the fuck out. Sometimes the movie even knows it is just being cheap with the scares, and it feels as if some of the characters are winking at you. It was fun though, but definitely missing a bit of dark charm from before.
For me though, the movie really shined when it entered new territory and brought in the concept of witches. Also halfway through the movie the setting rapidly changes and throws you into a whole new house. A much creepier house. The grandmothers house…. and who doesn’t have a grandmother with a creepy house. I know I did *shivers*.
It will feel as if you are really there during this segment. Suddenly you will be unsure of what is going on or what will be around the next corner! The build up gets tremendous! And then, Oh my god, is she….. nooo wayyyyy. So they are going to explain how this ties into the first movie right? Right? …. Right? … No? What the hell!
Seriously, the finale builds to such a crescendo and then fails to deliver proper answers to the plot. It was maddening to be honest.
Go in to Paranormal Activity 3 knowing what you are going to see. Lower your expectations and enjoy this as a fun October romp for this Halloween, but don’t expect the same story quality as the first two. There are some great (cheap) scares and some cool effects, but in the end it is more light-hearted than the first two and suffers for it.
I give Paranormal Activity 3 a 7 out of 10. In this case, a 7 for me was a fun movie that was a good way to kill an hour and a half, but ya know, don’t expect The Shining and it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.