In this prequel to the highly successful saga, we go back to 1988 to find the “origins” of sisters, Katie and Kristi’s strange supernatural activity. When their mother’s boyfriend, a wedding videographer, notices strange activities in the house through his tapes, he sets up three cameras throughout the house (including the awesome oscillating fan) to record… paranormal activity. All of a sudden strange things happen. Chairs are thrown and adults act like friggin morons up until the final 15 minutes that are suppose to “mess you up for life.”
The acting was better than the material. I’m usually annoyed by most child actors, and to be honest watching the previews already made biased against Katie and Kristie 2.0 er 1.0. However, I was completely sold on their chemistry and believability. As mentioned above, the camera trick with setting it on top of an oscalating fan created a new structure of tension that has previously been missing in a series that, lets face it, made you play the “where’s waldo?” game when there’s a still standing shot. For the people who bitched and moaned that the last two were boring and nothing happened until the end will be glad to know that the action comes in spades here. The babysitter scene was awesome, as was the “bloody mary” scene. This entry seemed to have an adrenaline shot to bring back the fans that swayed with PA 2.
The biggest problem with Paranormal Activity 3 is the fact that its Paranormal Activity 3. There was too much hype and success to live up to. Some dickwad critic saying “the last 15 minutes will mess you up for life,” will only set the viewer up for disappointment. Also, some things just didn’t connect with me. **SPOILER ALERT** In the previous films, Katie and Kristie’s mother is referenced as being alive, maybe a little nuts, but alive nonetheless. The ending contradicts this, or does it? How did these girls have all these strange things happen yet NONE of it is referenced when they’re adults? Why did this original and simple yet innovative premise of paranormal activity, push itself into a tale of witchcraft? Where’s the connection? Perhaps all these inconsistencies were deliberate to allow a fourth film. Some may say that’s cleaver writing. I felt it was lazy and manipulative. Why force this film into an open ending that doesn’t gel with premise of the original film? Ah yes…$$$.
Another issue I take with this film is the fact that the adults make incredibly selfish and unrealistic decisions. The male lead decides to set up cameras throughout the house to record any strange activity- which is fine in this case. Then he sees proof on camera. Instead of calling Father Merrim or the Ghostbusters, he keeps filming because he wants wants more proof than the ghost terrorizing house. Instead of getting his girlfriend and her children out of the house he keeps them in danger to fulfill his machismo complex. His best friend, who has seen the proof of the activity in the house, decides to play Bloody Mary with a young Katie. Why!? The babysitter gets slapped in the face by an unknown entity in the girl’s bedroom, leaves them there and doesn’t tell the parent’s what happened when they come home. Why!? The mother, the stock skeptic, refuses to believe her husband or her daughter when they’re freaking out about strange things happening. Why!? Of course it wasn’t until she saw paranormal activity (I can’t help it) for herself that makes her a believer.
Paranormal Activity 3 isn’t a bad film, but is hardly the best of the bunch. The first film still holds that distinction. However, for people who felt the first two were long and boring will appreciate this film and declare it the best because the action is mostly amped up. When my partner and I walked out the theater, the most consistent complaint we had was “I don’t think the writer of this film saw the first 2.” Lo and behold the writer of this film is the writer of the previous entry which leads me to two conclusions. This film’s script was either really rushed or the plot holes were deliberate to set up a fourth film. Either way it’s a partial and incomplete film. Also, 90% of the scenes in the trailers where nowhere to be found in the movie. Me thinks special scenes were shot for the trailer to ensure people more action can be guaranteed this time around. If there is a fourth film, we need something different. A new story or a new family because shit, how many times can the same family record paranormal activity? Plus I would hate to see this series go from a disturbing story of demonic possession to witchcraft, who btw doesn’t even worship the devil nor associate themselves with demons.
**1/2 out of 4
Vodka on the rocks. You’ll need it to make it through the shitastic measures this film goes through.