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Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3: Tense Horror Prequel

  • Brian BolandChristopher Nicholas Smith...
  • HorrorMystery & Suspense
  • Ariel SchulmanHenry Joost
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Paranormal Activity 3: Tense Horror Prequel

Set in the late 80s, Paranormal
Activity 3
is a prequel to the previous two films in the franchise. It
shows Katie and Kristi as kids haunted by a demonic spirit called Toby. At
first, their mother Julie (Bitter) and her boyfriend Dennis (Smith) assume that
Toby is a figment of Kristi’s imagination as she is the only one that can
actually see and converse with him. However, when they start hearing
disembodied sounds around the house; Dennis sets up a number of cameras in an
attempt to find out what’s behind the weird noises.    

Paranormal Activity’s shtick
is that it’s told entirely through home videos. Thankfully, however, the whole
handheld camera thing is not nausea-inducing in the slightest. It also helps
that throughout a good chunk of the film, the cameras are mounted on tripods so
we don’t suffer from overly shaky camerawork and the resultant migraines
à la Cloverfield.

The footage’s
faded colours and VHS style are pretty much the only nod to the 80s era that the
film is set in. That and the few glimpses of wedding footage that Dennis is
working on, complete with puffy dresses, big hair and awful makeup. Other than
that, the characters look quite contemporary in terms of hair, makeup and
clothing.

Bittner plays Julie, the sceptical mother who writes off her kid’s
behaviour as an overactive imagination. She gets steadily angrier due to the
cameras set up everywhere and the feeling of dread that she believes the
cameras are fostering in the kids. However, she’s finally forced to admit that
weird stuff is happening when the kitchen ceiling practically falls on top of
her head.

Unlike Julie, Dennis is all too willing to believe that
something supernatural has taken up residence in their house. He’s the one that
puts two and two together and starts questioning a very reluctant Kristi about
her ‘friend’ Toby. The more curious he gets about Toby, the angrier Toby gets,
letting out his anger in the form of smashing light bulbs, slamming doors,
pulling hair and generally terrorizing people.

There’s something to be said for horror films of the quiet sort; the
ones that scare the crap out of you without resorting to freak accidents and
bucket-loads of fake blood. Paranormal
Activity 3
builds up the tension slowly until you get to the final fifteen
minutes where you hardly dare take a breath because something really, really
creepy is about to happen, then BAM! The credits start to roll.

To say that the ending is unsatisfactory is a major understatement.
While most of the film was peppered with light scares here and there, the final
twenty minutes up the tension factor considerably, making the sudden, abrupt
ending a big let-down. Paranormal
Activity 3
starts off well, yet ends just when it gets really good, leaving
you wanting answers to your questions and a whole lot more. 

Like This? Try

Cloverfield, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity

360 Tip

The ‘fan cam’ that Dennis builds during the film, which is basically a camera fixed to the base of a moving fan, was inspired by a scene from Rosemary’s Baby. 

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