Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Movie Review – Fantastic Fest 2011
Paranormal Activity 3
Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman (Catfish)
Reviewer: Horrorphilia Jason
The Lowdown: The best entry in this mediocre overrated franchise.
That first sentence probably just pissed some of yall off and you won’t even bother reading what else I have to say. I am a huge found footage movie fan. Some of my favorite movies of the past few years such as the Rec’s, Cloverfield, Poughkeepsie Tapes, Home Movie, all fall into this category. For some reason the Paranormal Activity’s just never caught a hold of me. I thought the first was watchable (6/10) and the sequel slightly better (6.5), but I thought they were no where near the fright fest a lot of people make it out to be. I can honestly say the same tried and true formula was used this time around but to better than expected results.
The first few minutes of the movie have Katie Featherston and Sprague Grayden reprise their role, but then it quickly becomes a prequel and shows younger actresses portray them as kids. Little Katie and Kristi Ray along with their mother, and father who is a wedding photographer, move into a new house. Soon after Kristi Ray meets an imaginary friend named Tobie and strange things start to happen. After an incident with an earthquake, the father discovers something on the video tape and decides to set up cameras in the house to capture more footage. Of course the action quickly escalates and concludes with the most satisfying ending of the lot so far.
Found footage movies are such character driven it’s essential to at least like them for the movie to be successful. I gotta admit the father and his work buddy that watch and edit the footage are some of the most likable characters of the series. Not only is this overall the scariest of the franchise but it also has the most humor, which most of it worked. The young actresses weren’t mind blowing but they were adequate and did an admirable job. The mother (hottie Lauren Bittner) whom I wish was in it a tad more, was very good.
Now onto what most people are wanting to know. Is it scary? I can say it has the most scares that actually work. There are a few fake jump scares, but like the other two the vast majority of the scares are based on extremely loud noises and stuff falling off walls. Without spoiling anything there is a scene with a sheet and another with someone at the top of the stairs that weren’t based on loud noises, that were kinda freaky. Eventually there were 3 different cameras recording the action, one in the kids room, one in the parents room and one that was brilliantly designed on an oscillating fan that rotated from the kitchen to the living room. This “fan” camera lead to some of the coolest moments but also got a little annoying during the scenes that showed nothing.
The pacing of the movie was a little better and the scares came a little earlier in the film. There was still too many repeat scenes like being dragged around the room by an invisible force and one scene with the girl just standing there staring at her parents sleeping. I wish there were more original scenes such as the aforementioned sheet scene, instead of the same ol same ol. Also this was based in 88/89 but for some reason I wasn’t fully convinced that it was in that era. They did have a Teddy Ruxpin and the mother had a lame hairdo, but it needed some more things (music maybe) to help make it feel like that time.
Overall I can say if you love the first two then there’s no reason you won’t love this one. It’s the same thing just amped up a notch. I gotta state that the ending was kinda abrupt but it showed more than what I was expecting, thus making it the most satisfying overall. Since it’s a prequel I think a lot of people are expecting a lot of back story, but I was severely disappointed not much is overall revealed and only one key revelation is made at the end of the movie. I can only assume that the story is intentionally going to be shrouded in mystery or they are planning on pumping out a lot more of these movies and slowly reveal more and more details. When the inevitable sequel comes, I hope this time it shows more of the further adventures of Katie and explains a tad bit more. At this point I think they should stop the found footage angle and just go for an all out scarefest with the ending of the Katie storyline. But why fix what’s not broke aka why fix something that’s raking in the dough?