I’ve gone on record on numerous occasions that I completely hated PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. I had my fair share of issues with the film, most importantly the tagline (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it was the scariest movie since POLTERGEIST. For me, the first film in the now trilogy was full of plot holes, overall inconsistent, and not filled enough with scares to keep me interested. Not to mention, that ending made me laugh out loud which in turn got me a bunch of dirty looks from the other movie goers in that theater. So, yeah, I’m not easy to please. So what!
This past Wednesday, I attended an advance screening of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (albeit apprehensively). To further get myself up to speed, earlier that afternoon I watched PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 which was conveniently viewable on Netflix Instant. I found myself, still fairly annoyed with the character dynamic and continuity issues. I was getting a bit tired of the male character treating the female like an idiot for believing the house is haunted after the weird events start going down. Didn’t we see this in the first one and even elements of this style of bickering in INSIDIOUS? I swear, I was going to throw fish at the screen if they continued down this male/female dynamic in PA3! After seeing the first two films, I started thinking this family may have some serious voyeuristic tendencies with all these damn cameras around both houses. But Hell, for the overall story in these movies to work, one must suspend their disbelief and just go with the reality that these people normally carry around cameras through their every day lives. Sure, I’ll go with it. And for the record, I hated PA2 less than its predecessor.
It’s 1988, a young Katie and Kristi live with their mother Julie and her boyfriend Dennis. Kristi begins interacting with an imaginary friend named Toby. Dennis notices that since Kristi’s friend appeared, strange things have happened in the house. Dennis is a videographer and sets up cameras around the house to capture the odd happenings. The craziness ensues.
I’ll cut to the chase here and state I actually enjoyed PA3! Surprisingly! There were still issues existing with the plot for me and overall continuity I mentioned above. But with a series that may be getting a bit tired (doors slamming, random noises, watching people sleep in creepy darkness), PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 brought some fresh and unexpected scares. There was one moment in particular in the kitchen that had me stand up and applaud the screen and I NEVER DO THAT! Also, I’d like to thank the writers for flipping that couple dynamic I mentioned earlier. No fish were harmed in the act of tossing angrily at the movie screen.
Now, I’ve been seeing similar taglines in the new commercial campaign for PA3 saying ‘the last 15 minutes will mess you up for life’. I’m not sure I’d go THAT far but I have to commend them for finally adding in a bit more of the demon mythology from the previous film. I found the last 15 minutes interesting and a bit silly, quite honestly. And come on, if your life is in danger you’d put the camera down and run, right? But still, silly can be welcoming in a horror film and the use of the twist at the end made me like this movie even more.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is easily my favorite film from the series. I’m a bit unsure how they’d continue with a 4th installment using the same camera gimmick, but who knows? I’ve been proven wrong before.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 opens today. Go see it in a packed theater, that’s half the fun right there! – Aaron Pruner