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Monday, October 24, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 (Release Date: 10-21-2011)

        It's already become hard to remember that the Paranormal Activity series used to be a small thing. Like the first Saw film, the original Paranormal Activity was a festival movie first and foremost, and one that director Oren Peli surely couldn't have dreamed would blow up the way that it has. He shot his film in about a week's time, in his own home, and on a bankroll of $11,000. A few years later, the third film in the series is enjoying the biggest Fall opening weekend of all time (September and October considered). A simple, simple thing has become massive.

        That simple, simple thing, as you may well know, is the use of cheap cameras and amateur actors, set against a backdrop of perfectly relatable suburban life, to foster a feeling of immediacy and realism. Just like Paranormal Activity 2, the Third chapter is a prequel, this time taking the action back to 1988, as we witness the early years of Katie and Kristi, a pair of sisters who's fate is known by all who have seen the previous installments. The Two of them have an invisible friend who goes by the moniker Tobey, their gaurdians strongly disagreeing on how to handle the situation. Their mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner), avoids it completely, refusing to listen to any story that so much as involves his name. Her serious boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), however, starts to see signs as well, setting up cameras around the house (as is, apparently, everyone's first impulse when being haunted), and capturing One devious finding after another.

        As previously stated, the first film was a very simple movie, outstanding in its ability to pin the audience to One specific location (The couple's bedroom), and create dread and implications from just the sight its dimly-lit existence. The second expanded on this idea, changing up the formula not-at-all, but adding more rooms to revisit over and over again, the meaning of each space created in the mind of the terror-stricken viewer. Stated plainly, part Three does not have the powerful still visuals of the first Two films, and it attempts to compensate for this by having around twice as many scares as either of its ancestors. This works at first, but where the other films still had socking new places to go at their conclusions, this One simply doesn't withhold enough to make a towering climax possible. Each new scene has a new scare, and by about half-way through the movie, it's impossible not to start guessing if, 'the door is going to close,' or, 'that thing is going to fall,' and if you're having that active of a thought process, you probably aren't gripping your armrests with suspense. I'm a sucker for the Paranormal Activity series; The fear that they create resonates with me at a gut level. Sadly, even I am starting to feel some fatigue.

Grade: C+

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