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.

Film Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2 is a prequel that offers much the same as its predecessor. Although there are some good scares, the film lacks the innovation that would deem it a great sequel.

Following a break-in at their home, Daniel decides to install cameras to ensure the security of his wife, daughter and baby son. The cameras begin to capture strange occurrences, which seem to be focused on baby Hunter…

Paranormal Activity 2 is seamless in its position as a prequel, keeping the same theme and featuring characters Micah and Katie from the first film. The style of the film is also adhered to; the combination of security and hand-held cameras exhibit continuity from the original.

Michael R. Perry’s screenplay offers authentic interaction between the family members. The dialogue seems naturalistic, and the relationships between family members are quite believable. Where it falters is the lack of originality to really differentiate the film from the 2009 hit.

The overriding problem with Paranormal Activity 2 is that it repeats much of what happens in the first film. Like Paranormal Activity, the film is set up so supernatural incidents slowly build to a thrilling climax. Although the use of dates and times give the film the documentary feel attained by the original, the narrative and pacing mimics the first film far too much.

Furthermore, a number of the scares are identical to the first film. The use of the moving pots and pans, for example, appears completely reminiscent of Paranormal Activity. Likewise, director Tod Williams replicates the combination of tension-building scenes and surprise scares that worked so well in the original.

There are several jumpy moments in Paranormal Activity 2. However, there are also moments that are laughable. It is unclear whether this is the desired reaction, or whether these are unsuccessful scares. Again, the film repeats what was done successfully in the original; not reveal too much of the cause of the activity.

For fans of the first film, Paranormal Activity 2 offers more of the same scares that made a hit of its predecessor. Those expecting a little creativity or a twist to proceedings may be disappointed.