Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

The More You Pay Attention To It, The Better It Gets

I managed to get a current movie into the October Horror-thon before I ran out of time.  As you may have been able to tell from my previous review, I was skeptical going into this movie.  After I lost a bit of love for it because of the second movie, I assumed it would only get worse for the third part.  Let’s see if it did in my review of Paranormal Activity 3, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, and starring Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, and briefly bringing back Katie Featherston and Sprague Grayden.

We first briefly cut to scenes of Katie Featherston bringing some tapes to her pregnant sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden).  Then we cut to the scene where Kristi and her husband Dan (Brian Boland) are looking through their recently trashed house to see if anything was stolen, finding only that the box of tapes from their childhood were stolen.  Now we jump into those tapes.  We’re back in 1988 where young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) live with their mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner), and her boyfriend, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith).  They’re a normal family except for the fact that Kristi has an “imaginary” friend named Toby, though he prefers to be called Kunta Kinte.  Well that’s actually not that unusual for a kid, I hear.  The weird thing is that Dennis noticed that, ever since Toby came into the equation, strange things have been happening around the house.  Dennis, who works as a wedding photographer/video taper, decides he wants to set up a camera in the house to catch it on tape.  One night, he convinces Julie to make a very awkward sex tape, but they’re interrupted by an earthquake.  While reviewing the film later, Dennis realizes that some dust that fell from the ceiling landed on an invisible figure and stayed there until the figure disappeared in a puff of dust.  Dennis amps up the surveillance, placing three cameras around the house.  One goes in their room, one goes in the loft at the top of the stairs that they claim is a bedroom for their daughters, and the other one goes on a disassembled fan that moves the camera from side to side.  As in the other movies, these camera catch many strange events that slowly amp up in scariness until they reach a crescendo that may not mean good things for the family.

I am prepared to offer this movie the title of “Best of the Three Paranormal Activity movies”.  It obviously has a lot in common with the other movies, from the found-footage style of filming to the premise of the movie, and even the characters.  What this one does on top of that is show that the filmmakers imagination and ability in regards to cool, creepy ghost occurrences has improved drastically, and it also brings us back story that helps us understand the first two movies as well.  The part where the dust falls on the ghost figure is really well done and pretty spooky.  Later on, the kid’s babysitter tells the kids a ghost story by putting a bed sheet over herself.  Later, as she’s downstairs doing homework, the sentry fan-cam catches a glimpse of someone the kid’s height under the bed sheet in the corner, then goes back to her, then back to the corner where it’s gone, then back to her where the sheet-covered figure is standing behind the babysitter.  As the camera turns back the other way, the figure dissolves and the sheet plops to the ground.  Very well done.  It’s like a David Copperfield trick, but scary.  Shortly after an attempt to play “Bloody Mary” seemingly pisses Toby off, Katie is chasing Kristi through their room where she runs into an invisible figure and is then hoisted into the air by her hair by it.  That’s what you get!  Bloody Mary ain’t a game!  And when the family picks up and goes to Julie’s mother’s house, the tension builds on itself very drastically until bringing us to a big release at the very end that was nowhere near as disappointing to me as the endings of the other two movies.  There are plenty more creepy occurrences, to be sure, but I don’t want to ruin them for you.  Check them out, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Now, one problem I had was that continuity seemed to be up for grab in this movie in comparison to the other movies.  Having just watched all three in the same day, I’m still thinking that they did not work out all of the problems with it.  This movie does show us where the picture that debuts in the first movie was taken, and I thought that was cool, but other things didn’t match up.  One that I got wrong was that I thought throughout this movie was that I thought it was Katie who was haunted, but after watching the other two I remembered that Kristi was chronologically haunted first and then that Mexican maid bitch and her douche nozzle husband had it sent over to Katie.  But in the first movie she says that the demon has never been so violent before after she was dragged out of the room by it, apparently having forgotten the fact that she was dragged around by the demon in this movie as well as hoisted by her hair.  And if you want to argue that she forgot it because of how long ago it was then I ask you how she remembered so damned much about that picture.  There’s another big one that I’m still not sure how they make it work out, but I don’t want to ruin it so I must leave it off.

Let’s talk performances.  They give us the same quality of performances in this movie as in the other ones.  All of the characters (and even the kids) give really realistic performances and all seem like real people, which again adds to the movie’s ability to draw us in to believing this really happened.  I do have problems with the characters that is the fault of the writers though.  For instance, in the very beginning when Katie brings the tapes to the pregnant Kristi, Kristi’s husband Dan is filming his pregnant wife standing on a ladder and painting Hunter’s room.  Really, dude?  You are making a very hard run at father/husband of the year.  I did wonder how the women of this family always seem to attract men who love video editing though.  Julie, Katie, and Kristi all brought Dennis, Micah, and Dan into their nonsense and all of these guys have a major hard on for filming everything in their world.  Which brings us into the next problem: Incredulity.  Every one of these movies could’ve ended on a much happier note if not for Micah, Dan, and Julie being so incredulous when it comes to these hauntings.  Micah started believing pretty quickly into the movie, but both Dan and Julie went nearly the entire movie acting like none of these strange things were happening and, like Katie, blaming the person who was filming it.  Katie (possibly correctly) believes that Micah’s filming is just agitating the demon, Dan gets angry about Kristi and Ali believing in this stuff, and Julie flat out says that the girls are freaking out about a ghost because of Dennis.  Really, bitch?  You wanna see the video evidence I have that your daughter was just lifted in the air by her hair by a ghost?  She didn’t even see that stuff because she was busy irrationally blaming him for it.  Let this be a lesson to all of you: If your loved one tells you numerous times that you have a haunting, go ahead and have a priest come out for a second opinion or risk having your neck broken in a very laughable way.

I definitely think you guys should hit up your local theaters and check out this movie.  I had mild continuity issues (some of which are still unresolved) and I admittedly got a little bored in the middle of the movie, the end of the movie and the cool new spookiness definitely puts it ahead of both other Paranormal Activity installments.  We still have unresolved issues with this family that I hope will be tied up in at least one other movie, but I also hope they don’t run out of good ideas by then.  I’ll give this movie “Toby” out of “Kunta Kinte.”

Hey, peeps.  Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh?  And tell your friends!  Let’s make me famous!