Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

When an attempt to make a sex-tape is foiled by a poorly-timed earthquake, later inspection of the captured footage appears to show the outline of a ghostly figure in the settling dust. Spurned on by the revelation that young Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) has struck up a friendship with an invisible being, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) – mother Julie’s (Lauren Bittner) wedding photographer boyfriend – decides to set up a series of cameras to search for further activity. Taken to hospital with a mysterious illness after having ended her relationship with the apparently make-believe Toby, Kristi and her worried parents leave sister Katie (Chloe Csengery) in the care of family friend Randy. Talked into playing ‘Bloody Mary’, the Randy and Katie are attacked by the entity which now seems determined to make its presence felt. Relocating to Julie’s mothers, can the family escape Toby’s hold once and for all?

At this late stage in the game, the audience knows exactly what to expect from a Paranormal Activity movie: namely two hours of boredom peppered with creaking doors and clanging bangs topped off with a few minutes of pandemonium as our resident evil jumps into deadly action. Having barely sustained two movies, it is a formula that in all fairness has very little life in it. Thankfully, however, the filmmakers responsible for our yearly dose of paranormal activity have a new weapon up their sleeves: humour.

Paranormal Activity 3 is entertaining. Consistently so. Retconning itself into the extant mythology with a few shots of Katie and Kristie are adults (taken from around the time of Paranormal Activity 2), directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman take the franchise back to its roots, immersing the drama in an eighties setting brimming with men called Randy, VHS tapes and stone-washed denim jackets. Well aware of audience perceptions (and fresh from last year’s excellent Catfish), the directors riddle the film with jump-scares that are as funny as they are scary, building up an atmosphere that trumps just about all that came before.

It really feels like there is an invisible force acting just out of sight from the film’s flash-forward beginning to its pulse-pounding end – the scenes in which the younger sisters interact with the entity are charged, magnetic, thick with unexpectedly suffocating terror. What the film lacks in originality – why must it always be the man who is obsessed with recording the activity, and the woman too busy protesting to take heed? – it makes up for in occasional innovation. A camera strapped to the base of a rotating fan adds a truly unlikely amount of suspense to a scene which might otherwise have felt comparatively staid, while a gag involving a harmless sheet of linen is executed to mortifying perfection.

As with any Paranormal Activity movie, however, it is the final moments which really deliver on the film’s premise, the series apparently boasting one of the most drama-friendly poltergeists to ever grace the shadows. While it would be unfair to give it away, it is likely that the final piece of the puzzle will either make or break the movie for you. Boasting a greater physicality than either of the earlier instalments to date, it all comes down to whether you think less is indeed more. Needless to say: I jumped a mile.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

  1. Pingback: October 2011 – Relax, I interviewed a pilot once! « popcornaddict

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