Monday, September 19, 2016

Paranormal Activity 3 Review

I gotta say, as a person who saw only the original Paranormal Activity and mildly liked it, only to skip the rest of the films going forward initially, watching these films now has been a surprising treat. Despite being flawed, the franchise has been a lot of fun, and that includes the third installment.

The decision to make a prequel to the first two films to explain the origin of the demonic entity that haunted sisters Katie and Kristi is an interesting one, as the backstory (that I didn't care for) involving their childhood is vaguely discussed but never fleshed out in detail. New to the franchise co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, best known for their hit documentary Catfish that has since shined a light on a cultural phenomenon, explore where the evil began with unfortunately mixed results.

The first misstep involves the pacing early on in the film, because while this is the third of a series, it doesn't simply feature already established characters that an audience has a deep understanding of going into the experience. Katie and Kristi, sure, familiar despite going back in time and seeing them as children here, but their parents are fresh faces and it is vital that we feel something for them before the scares start to take over. Joost and Schulman along with writer Christopher Landon waste little time before trying to fill the viewers with dread, but it's missing a factor that helped make the first two films work: the idea that you need to earn the scares by allowing the characters affected to mean something first.

Paranormal Activity 3 also suffers from a bit of predictability that takes some intensity away from what happens. The scariest moments in films like these are those we don't see coming, and there is a lot I saw coming here, but not all. There are a few pretty entertaining moments that sent shivers down my spine, and the usage of an oscillating fan with a camera attached to it proves to be an absolutely ingenious piece of horror filmmaking, easily my favorite thing to happen during the franchise through three films.

I'm not sure why, but I anticipated a disaster once I reached the third Paranormal Activity film. Perhaps there was word of mouth I recall that only added fuel to my skip all those movies fire, but truthfully even this pretty mediocre picture still gave me a few moments to smile about and one or two scenes I may never forget.


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