The genius of the Paranormal Activity series is the sheer simplicity of them. As anyone who has seen any of the series installments will know, the entire movie is made up of “home videos” that are filmed in a seemingly ordinary homes. It could very well be yours.
Paranormal Activity 3 follows the same family as the previous two films, but in a way also serves as an origin story. Set in 1988, the plot follows sisters Katie and Kristi when they are little (the first movie is about Katie, the second about Kristi when the two are older). The sisters’ mom is dating Dennis, who happens to be a wedding videographer. When strange things begin to happen after Kristi meets an invisible friend in the house called Toby, naturally Dennis decides to set up cameras around the house to see what the deal is.
The now familiar formula begins with freaky happenings at night. However, this particular installment of the series has many spine-chilling thrills that are quite unexpected, including many unexpected timings of spirit interference. The very angry spirit in the house attacks at night, during the day and, in total, much more than the audience saw in the first movie of the series. Seriously, this spirit has anger issues.
Overall, this movie was well done. Basically that means it was terrifying. As a moviegoer who has never seen a scary movie before in theaters, I can safely say you will get your thrills with this movie, as I audibly screamed on several occasions. As this is Hamilton and I saw this on a weekday, my friend and I were the only ones in the theater. But in an audience full of people, I’m sure the theater would be filled with screams and jumps. With just two of us, needless to say there were many “Holy @#%!, what’s going to happen, I know something’s going to happen!!” exclamations.
Other than the thrills of the movie, the plot line seemed a bit much – based on the previous movies, Katie and Kristi are not supposed to remember what happened to them when they were young, only that strange things have happened to them before. Based on what happens to them in the movie, I wouldn’t be so quick to completely forget. But the filmmakers thought of some clever things to keep the audience from ever fully looking at the screen. This included one placement of a camera in the house that was set on a modified oscillating fan. The camera shot kept switching in between two rooms at a slow and even pace, which of course meant that it slowly panned to some terrifying sight you weren’t originally aware of.
Overall, this film is a perfect example of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Even though it’s very similar to the first two films in terms of format, there are some very unexpected scares (including the result of the “Bloody Mary” legend. Needless to say it’s to be watched only through trembling hands covering your face). Some of the novelty of the filming may have worn off, but largely the film is still a spine-tingling – and outright screaming – delight.
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