Paranormal Activity 3 – Film Review

(Written for Rought Cut Reviews)

From Catfish directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, Paranormal Activity 3 is the latest in the horror series to get its Halloween cinema release. Set 18 years prior to the events of the previous two films, this latest outing centres around sisters Katie and Kristi, whom both befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.

Opening in 2005, Paranormal Activity 3 introduces the two sisters on to the screen once again, in adult form, which sees sister Kristi and her husband, Daniel, decorating a nursery for their unborn baby boy. When Katie arrives at their house with a box of old videotapes, a year later a short snippet of a seemingly burgled house is shown on-screen, allowing the audience to understand the box of video tapes is the only item missing.

(This is where Paranormal Activity 2 begins) Taken back to 1988, we see Katie and Kristi as young girls, both living with their mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner), and her boyfriend, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). What at first starts out to be a seemingly perfect family, soon starts to reveal its hidden secrets, when Kristi starts to interact with her invisible friend ‘Toby’, an older gentleman that lives in the house.

As Dennis starts to experience strange noises around the same time ‘Toby’ is introduced to the household, he decides to set up a series of cameras around the house, hoping to resolve the problem. Watching back the footage the following morning, Dennis notices a strange figure in one of the shots, and invites his friend Randy over to take a second look. Persuaded to keep filming to allow for any further incidents to be recorded, the narrative for Paranormal Activity 3 officially begins, filled with endless shots of night recordings, and peculiar events happening throughout the night. 

Opening to Box Office success in the States, Paranormal Activity 3 set new records for both a midnight opening of a horror film and the best opening day for a horror film, along with becoming the highest-grossing opening for any film in October and throughout the fall. (September-October) Not only this, this latest instalment went on to become a record-breaking opening for the franchise, earning an impressive $52 million, a substantial amount more than the films predecessors.

Aware of the concept seen in the previous two, this latest instalment gets off to a slow start, and has little to offer in terms of originality. With scenes featuring only a flicker of light, and the slight  bump from down the hall, the conventions used throughout much of the films entirety have been done before. A lot of the film focuses on trying to understand who Krisiti’s imaginary friend is, with the video-camera effect seeming almost pointless when walking around during the day. Allowing the history of the two sisters to develop further, Paranormal Activity 3 does provide some useful pieces of information that help to interweave the three films together.

With little to offer throughout the majority of its running time, the pace eventually begins to pick up within the latter half of the film, and the events that unfold on-screen mirror a nail-biting finale that Paranormal Activity is known for. Building on a series of spine-tingling events within the remaining twenty minutes, the film goes from being a mediocre sequel to an intense watch that sees Paranormal Activity at its very best.

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