Paranormal Activity 3 ReviewNovember 10, 2011
The first entry in the Paranormal Activity trilogy got quite a bit of buzz. It was startling that a team with such a low budget ($15,000) was able to draw in such a large audience and offer a unique take on the horror genre. The movie was shot entirely from one camera, following a young couple’s encounter with a mysterious ghost from within their own home. The film’s sequel was given a considerably larger budget, but was met with slightly worse critical response. The third entry is here, so does it continue the downward trend, or re-visit what made the first film work?
Paranormal Activity 3 is set before the events of the first film, following a series of events that occur in the late 80s. While keeping this review spoiler-free, I will say that it does indeed connect to the first two films. Katie Featherston returns in the leading role, with Chloe Csengery playing her younger self and supported by a small cast that is new to the series. The first half hour of the movie was quite strong, and gave me good hope for the rest of it. The performances are nothing to marvel at, but there are a cool few moments that will definitely snag your attention. I was quite disappointed to see everything go downhill after the first act.
The bulk of the film is a retread of the second, using jump scares and bizarre imagery (akin to the shock ending of Paranormal Activity) in place of any real psychological horror. While the increased budget does allow for some cool visual stunts, it’s nothing that I hadn’t seen before. There are plenty of gags involving the camera seeing what the characters cannot, and they just fell flat for me after seeing them used so much in the first two films. While the plot definitely had more originality than Paranormal Activity 2, it just did not match the breath of fresh air that the first film gave to the horror genre.
In short, this film is nothing special. It’s apparent that the director has run short of new ideas, and is resting on his laurels. The inevitable sequel is most likely already in development, and we can only hope that it will be an improvement upon this one. If you were a fan of the first two entries, this one may satisfy you. Otherwise, you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. Maybe a home security system would be a good purchase? You never know what those cameras will find.