Film Review: Paranormal Activity 3

For the third instalment of Paranormal Activity filmmakers go back to the past. A prequel to the first two movies, Paranormal Activity 3 is better than the second one in that it at least shows some innovation.

In September 1988, young girls Kristi and Katie live with their mother and her partner Dennis. Strange occurrences begin to take place, which coincide with the arrival of Katie’s imaginary friend Toby. Dennis decides to set up video cameras around the house in order to capture any unusual incidents…

Using the same format at the first two films, Paranormal Activity 3 uses video footage to tell its tale. Again, like the first two films, it seems unusual that someone would concentrate on making sure they were filming in a moment of sheer terror. Nevertheless, the style gives the film an authentic feeling.

Making the third film a prequel was a sensible choice, given that the first two films gave successive films little place to go. It also allowed writer Christopher B. Landon to give a back story to the sisters featured in the first two films. There is a little amusement to be gained from the late-1980s costumes, toys and technology, which is also a bonus.

In terms of frights, Paranormal Activity 3 features the same jumpiness as the first two films. Many of the scares have been recycled from the first two films. However, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman bring some creativity to the film. The ‘Bloody Mary’ sequence is one of the films most frightening episodes. Similarly, the oscillating camera is used to great effect in the film.

As with so many horror films, the ending is a letdown after all the build up. The film would have been scarier if events remained unaccounted for. Although this may have frustrated some viewers, it would have made the film stronger overall. As it stands, the ending is rather weak.

Performances in Paranormal Activity 3 are fine. Chloe Csengery is well cast as the young Katie. Sound employed effectively in the film. Like the first two instalments, the use of sound and the use of silence is integral to getting the frights. Pacing in the film also works well; the slow build at the beginning is necessary to set the scene.

Paranormal Activity 3 will satisfy viewers looking for more of the same. There are some good frights, but it feels as if the franchise has now gone beyond its peak. There seems little need for a fourth chapter.