Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

October 26, 2011 - 11:21pm | Johnny D
  Tags: Ariel Schulman, Brian Boland, Chloe Csengery, Christopher Nicholas Smith, demonic, Dustin Ingram, ghosts, haunted, haunting, Henry Joost, Jessica Tyler Brown, Katie Featherston, Lauren Bittner, Mark Fredrichs, mockumentary, Oren Peli, paranormal activity, prequel, Sprague Grayden

Your rating: None Average: 7.7 (12 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 

Rating #: 
Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Dustin Ingram, Brian Boland, Mark Fredrichs

If it’s Halloween, it must be...Paranormal Activity? That’s right, children. Society has lopped off Saw’s head, and Paranormal Activity’s has grown in its place. Even though the original was completely overhyped and scores a giant goose egg on the rewatchability scale, I respected it for its minimalist, grass roots approach. The second one lacked all of the first’s low budget charm, as does this latest installment. It’s safe to say that after only three movies, this franchise has grown staler than Jason Voorhees’ rotting, re-animated corpse.

Though you were an idiot if you actually thought it was real, one redeeming aspect about the original film was its attempt at authenticity.  It looked, sounded, and felt like it was shot by just a guy and his camera. I was intrigued by the fact that Part 3 took place in 1988 in the golden age of VHS, hoping that it would have some fun with the good ol’ static and tracking. Alas those hopes were dashed about two minutes in to the film.

While I didn’t expect them to actually shoot on VHS, they made no attempt to duplicate its look. This was OBVIOUSLY shot on 16:9 HD video, and has a far superior picture quality than the previous two films. The night scenes are also perfectly lit like a multi-million dollar film…cause it is one. Long story short, it’s overproduced, and took me out of the movie immediately. I can only assume Paramount and the filmmakers just assumed that the younger target audience would have no knowledge of what VHS looks like and wouldn’t notice.

Visual gripes aside, my main issue with the film is that it follows beat for beat the structure of the previous two films. Each prominent set piece appears in roughly the same spot as the prominent set pieces in the others. Think Hangover Part 2.  There’s absolutely zero surprise as to when the events are going to escalate, or when there’s simply going to be a door shutting by itself. 

Much like the second part, the camera is perfectly placed to make sure the audience captures everything that they’re supposed to, and characters record themselves having inane conversations for no reason whatsoever. I mean, why are you recording yourself watching videos that you’ve recorded. And why the hell, if you’ve had solid proof of the supernatural, would you not show your girlfriend, who of course doesn’t believe that anything is wrong with her house. Typical annoying haunted house stereotypes. Nothing new.

I must disclose that I’m automatically biased against this film for my ever-growing disdain for the ”found footage” gimmick. This isn’t a movie; it’s a series of random scenes just loosely sewn together by the bare bones of a plot. I was tempted to give it a lower rating than a 5, but truth (and box office) be told, it’s satisfying its audience. And, really, that’s exactly what a movie is supposed to do. The filmmakers are able to build enough tension for the jump scares to occasional pay off in a packed theater. I don’t get it, I’m not going to attempt to pretend to get it, but apparently I’m in the minority. Paramount is giving the audience more of the same, and the audience is lapping it up.

The latest entry in the soon to be never ending franchise is just more of the same; filled with typical haunted house clichés, and an identical structure to its two predecessors.  However, some of the scares managed to be effective, and it hit the mark with the target audience…which I’m clearly not part of.

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