“Paranormal Activity 3” is the second sequel in the Paranormal Activity franchise. So by now, I presume you all know what the deal is. Two sisters have been plagued since childhood by a malevolent spirit… when the ghostly phenomena begin to manifest themselves, someone close to them sets up cameras in order to capture the occurrences on film. We’re treated to the views from these cameras during the night (or day at times in this one), and a round of “What’s going to move?” ensues.
This third chapter goes back to the girl’s childhoods in order to explore the root causes of their curse, and the addition of the children, plus the mythology the film crafts around the source of the events give this film enough variation so that it doesn’t feel like the total retread that the second one did. It can safely be called a “Return to Form”.
Katie and Kristi are the two daughters of Julie, a single mother who has allowed her boyfriend to move in with them. The boyfriend is a wedding photographer and videographer by trade, so he has a wide array of video equipment, including VHS cameras (the movie is set in the late 80s) and editing equipment. So when young Kristi starts talking to an imaginary friend, and a ghostly shape appears at the end of another video, they’re well prepared to blanket the house with perpetual surveillance.
Including the two young girls was a clever idea for this film. Aside from giving you someone to care about and be afraid for, it also interjects a clever new angle of seeing the events from a child’s perspective. The “Imaginary Friend” is a creepy horror trope (though “Tobe” can’t hold a candle to Captain Howdy!). So is the “Closet with the small door,” and this movie has one of those as well. If this movie had incorporated the “Talking Doll” it could have hit the trifecta!
The story here is fine, it even has an unexpected turn towards the end. What I can’t deny though, is that by now, for me at least, all of the scares are gone and all that’s left are “Startles” (although, admittedly, this movie has some good ones). The first “Paranormal Activity” is one of the few films that really, truly scared me. I bought it on Blu when it came out, and waited ’til the middle of the night to watch it with all the lights off. That lasted about 20 minutes before I had every light in the house on. Now though, it’s just an exercise in trying to “spot the ghost” when they go (frequently) to the night cameras, where nothing in the scene really moves and everything is quiet. Whereas in the first one, I was out of my mind wondering “WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN??” by this one I’m just calmly munching popcorn going “What’s going to move?”
The crowd certainly didn’t seem phased though. Having the day off yesterday, I initially thought I would go to an early showing of the movie during the afternoon, and be home and have my review written and ready to go for this morning, all before supper. But at some point the realization dawned on me that this is the type of movie you WANT to see in a crowded theatre… to GET that audience reaction. And sure enough, all that was missing was a couple of night vision cameras, and my audience could have been a commercial for the movie. There were no empty seats, and the crowd whimpered, screamed and laughed nervously as if the movie were a ballpark organist calling up sound effects on cue.
So if you’re a fan of the style or the series, you’re in for a treat. This movie dishes out what you’re looking for in big heaping portions. Even if 2 already felt tired to you (as it did for me), you’ll find the changes here reinvigorating, and get a lot of enjoyment out of the movie again. If you’ve never SEEN one of these movies, perhaps that’s the best way of all to go in, I have to imagine it would freak you out pretty good, LOL. For me, I can state unequivocally that I enjoyed it, I think it was a very good horror movie and a nice entry into the series, but the “Been there, done that” feel to the style of the movie – seriously, like 80% of the film is that camera recording at night gimmick – limits the ceiling on the frights.