Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 3
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Horror themes, coarse language and drug use

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Actors: Katie Featherston, Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Jessica Tyler Brown, Sprague Grayden, Chloe Csengery

It runs in the family...Are you ready to be scared again?

The Paranormal Activity franchise continues with this third outing. Oren Peli and Jason Blum return to produce the highly secretive prequel feature, with Catfish's directing duo of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman taking on the directing duties.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 90mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Night terrors
by Simon Miraudo,

It seems the law of diminishing returns applies even to the superb Paranormal Activity series, which has dominated the Halloween season three years running with its cheeky thrills and lo-fi aesthetic. Paranormal Activity 3 doesn’t quite inspire the same white-knuckle dread as previous instalments, but when you consider the current state of the horror genre at large (a veritable grave yard), it’s still the funnest ride at the fair. Producer and original Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli has recruited Catfish helmers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman to take the reins of his faux found-footage franchise (it certainly doesn’t help Joost and Schulman’s argument that their documentary Catfish was real and not a fakery). The duo does a fine job with the format – fact or fiction, Catfish was s...

It seems the law of diminishing returns applies even to the superb Paranormal Activity series, which has dominated the Halloween season three years running with its cheeky thrills and lo-fi aesthetic. Paranormal Activity 3 doesn’t quite inspire the same white-knuckle dread as previous instalments, but when you consider the current state of the horror genre at large (a veritable grave yard), it’s still the funnest ride at the fair.

Producer and original Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli has recruited Catfish helmers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman to take the reins of his faux found-footage franchise (it certainly doesn’t help Joost and Schulman’s argument that their documentary Catfish was real and not a fakery). The duo does a fine job with the format – fact or fiction, Catfish was still an expertly crafted and affecting film – and understands what makes these pictures so scary: the locked-off cameras that linger too long over sleeping bodies, forcing our eyes to dart around the frame in search of some kind of spookery; the first-person POV shots that drag us reluctantly into dark corners, as if were riding a ghost train around a multi-story house; the use of darkness, shadow-play, creaky doors, and, in one of the best sequences, a simple bed-sheet as a ghost costume. It takes true filmmakers to mine terror from these clichés, and it requires an eager audience willing to submit themselves to the devilish whims of these cinematic puppet masters. This is the agreement entered into by the willing participants, and everyone gets something out of it (the audience – a blast of a time; the filmmakers – a hefty return on their teensy financial investment).

Paranormal Activity 2 scribe Christopher Langdon returns for the third instalment, dribbling out further info regarding the cursed, amnesiac sisters Katie (Katie Featherston) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and their life-ruining, other-worldly demon buddy. The way their mythology has been established over three films has felt really organic, although now the puzzle pieces are in place, I’m disappointed to learn of a rather conventional explanation for it all (well, ‘conventional’ for a supernatural fright-fest anyway). The picture takes place during their forgotten childhood in 1988, when young Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) befriended a mysterious, invisible figure known as Toby, much to the consternation of Katie (Chloe Csengery) and her mum’s suspicious, VHS-recorder toting boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). Mum Julie (Lauren Bittner, looking awfully like JoBeth Williams; just one of the picture’s many Poltergeist references) thinks nothing of Kristi’s invisible pal, but, as you can assume, she too will soon suffer at the hands of the mischievously violent house-guest.

Ultimately, the first two thirds just aren’t as scary as we've come to expect; save a few decent jump scares, a number of the series’ trademark tricks don’t deliver as they have before. The primary camera capturing the night-time nastiness is attached to an oscillating fan, and though it provides a novel new angle to events, it can’t compare to the stationary recorder at the foot of Katie and Micah’s bed in the still unsurpassed first flick. That being said, Paranormal Activity 3 still delivers enough spooks to make it a more than worthy sequel. One set piece – involving the repetition of ‘Bloody Mary’ into a bathroom mirror – is a genuine chiller (though it's not the scene from the trailer, which is a nice twist). The final ten minutes is as thrilling as any sequence in the entire saga; a lengthy, disturbing, single-take journey into the darkness, with a deeply unsettling revelation regarding this family’s haunted history at its core. If Peli and company called it a day with that ending, they can be truly proud of the fine - and super fun - trilogy of terror they have crafted.

3.5/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (29)

Lloyd
says
A step up from part 2 and def has a decent scare factor but tends to suffer from some laughable bitz and the ending is downright silly but This Is one of the best of PA.
Posted Friday, 12 July 2013 See my other reviews
Dave S
says
I'm glad PARANORMAL ACTIVITY finally put a bullet in the SAW franchise, but since then it's mutated into a horror juggernaut that's somehow even more insufferable. Instead of seeing this film, perhaps you can have a friend or relative jump out unexpectedly from a darkened doorway and yell "BOO!" at you. It's largely the same thing and you will save yourself from 80 minutes of tedious exposition and sloppily imrovised dialog.
Posted Wednesday, 1 May 2013 See my other reviews
darthdorian
says
worst of the franchise so far. seems as if the writers are making camera angels and story line too convienient. maybe if the writers got paid by the profit of the movie, they would have written a better one. but, again....i have to say.....if you watched the other two, you might as well get this one.
Posted Friday, 5 October 2012 See my other reviews
Tracey Watson
says
probably the scariest of the Paranormal activities - highly recommended if you love horror movies - allot of in your face moments... don't let the kids watch it though
Posted Monday, 10 September 2012 See my other reviews
Daniel
says
Not scary at all spent most of the time laughing. Watch it for a good laugh.
Posted Sunday, 1 July 2012 See my other reviews
Candice
says
Kept us on the edge of our seats as did the first 2 I agree with jtbug this one should have been the sequel! But for them to make a fourth one ...? I don't know what they could come up with to top this one....
Posted Wednesday, 27 June 2012 See my other reviews
jtbug
says
If, like me, you wish the disjointed mess that was Paranormal Activity 2 had never happened, you'll agree this is the sequel the first one truly deserved. Found-footage films are getting rather long in the tooth, but PA3 adds enough new spins and scares to the formula to justify its existence. A decent chiller.
Posted Friday, 15 June 2012 See my other reviews
Mel
says
They get more silly as they go along, but they still give me chills!
Posted Saturday, 26 May 2012 See my other reviews
Noel
says
Some movies are a bit slow to get into, so I watched and watched and watched for about a 1/3 of the way through in the hope it was going to get better... but it didn't.....
Posted Sunday, 20 May 2012 See my other reviews
brony73
says
1 and 2 were better, this was a bit lame esp the ending
Posted Thursday, 17 May 2012 See my other reviews
Danielle
says
yea not bad, same as the others just different actors and scenario's
Posted Monday, 14 May 2012 See my other reviews
Nyree
says
Abit scary but basically pathetic
Posted Wednesday, 9 May 2012 See my other reviews
chevy
says
Not as good as the first
Posted Sunday, 29 April 2012 See my other reviews
Girl Friday
says
I don't know why but I'm waiting for Paranormal 4. Must be the voyeur thing cause this movie series is lame.
Posted Monday, 9 April 2012 See my other reviews
sue
says
It had me jumping some times from fright, well done film, better than the original
Posted Tuesday, 3 April 2012 See my other reviews
andrea
says
okay first was better
Posted Monday, 2 April 2012 See my other reviews
Johno
says
Spooky, very spooky after watching the first two installments this was no disappointment.
Posted Thursday, 15 March 2012 See my other reviews
Lea
says
As entertaining as the first two.
Posted Friday, 9 March 2012 See my other reviews
A.S
says
If you have watched the other two films in this franchise, then the third is a must see! It answers all un-answered questions and provides a great deal more scares than the first two films. I don't scare easily but I must admit I jumped quite a few times while watching this film!
Posted Wednesday, 7 March 2012 See my other reviews
megan
says
a bit far fetched as the other paranormal movies.
Posted Thursday, 1 March 2012 See my other reviews
Charlie44
says
Not terrible, but not terribly interesting either. A few scares here and there, but nothing overly original. Little bit over the whole shaky handheld camera footage movies of late.
Posted Wednesday, 29 February 2012 See my other reviews
Aidan
says
This is garbage, tranquilizers R us, if you need to be in a coma, then this movie is for you. It's as pathetic as the other two, why did I watch it! I'm stupid.
Posted Wednesday, 29 February 2012 See my other reviews
jess
says
really enjoyed this one. better than the other 3 and more scary
Posted Tuesday, 28 February 2012 See my other reviews
Sandie
says
Excellent, made me jump.
Posted Tuesday, 28 February 2012 See my other reviews
Lauz
says
Loved it.... very scary and intense.... still prefer 1 & 2 though
Posted Monday, 27 February 2012 See my other reviews
Matthew B.
says
As a prequel this one is better than the second one. Important to remember this film is set before the second one, which is set before the first one. Packs more of a punch than the number two.
Posted Sunday, 26 February 2012 See my other reviews
Crissy
says
This movie was a total waste of my time. Storyline was terrible and the movie seemed to just end when things just started to get interesting.
Posted Saturday, 25 February 2012 See my other reviews
Maxima
says
Why was the preview so much better than that movie?....A lot of scenes that are in the preview are not even in the movie....a shame, not as good as the first and second one.
Posted Saturday, 25 February 2012 See my other reviews
Tanya
says
If you have children, this will completely freak you out. I still get chills thinking about it and I saw it months ago in the cinema. It is so much better than Paranormal Activity no. 2 and certainly as good as no. 1. This is as good as horror gets!
Posted Thursday, 23 February 2012 See my other reviews
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