Vic’s Review – “Paranormal Activity 3” (2011)

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What’s it About?

In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home. Hoping to catch photo eveidence of Bloody Mary, they become victims of their own horror film.

Paranormal Activity 3

Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

6 out of 10

By Vic

Yes, folks, here we go with the second inevitable sequel in the “Paranormal Activity” canon of films. More “Found Footage” fodder for audiences to over-react to feverishly in darkened theaters. And though this entry, directed by Henry Joost (Catfish) and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 4), does not quite reach the inventiveness that the previous films displayed it is not without it’s spooky merits outright. Joost and Schulman are adept at delivering a lean fright film which is ultimately, in my opinion, forgettable but a decent time waster.

The film is a prequel and depicts spooky other-worldy and paranormal events that involve the two sisters, Katie and Kristi, who have had supernatural events happen to them in the previous films. It is 1988 and the young sisters are living with their Mother and Step-Father  The Step-dad is a wedding video photographer that begins to place cameras around the home (using old VHS tapes) after some mysterious events begin to happen  in the home.

For some cryptic reason, Kristi seems to be the catalyst of these strange happenings  as she begins to talk to a spirit named “Toby.”  Of course no one believes her about Toby but the occurrences continue in the home. Suffice it to say that the film does depict some very creepy events as the story unfolds.

The set up is brief and we get to the goods right away. This is what is right with the film. We get the various camera shots of the house and the anticipation begins slowly and builds up nicely. We get strange noises, levitating children and ghostly images throughout. But we have been here before and sometimes the scares do not pay off like we want. It’s as if we know what’s coming and we aren’t so creeped out after it happens.

There is the proper amount and build up of suspense and that works quite well. What I felt was a weakness was the climax which involved the girl’s Grandmother who hides a strange secret. It may work for those who enjoy enigmatic fodder in order to pave a way for another sequel but for me it felt tacked on and hokey. I don’t completely dismiss it for it’s tactic, though.

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Though that subplot is terrifying, things get fuzzy as we witness an ending that clears up absolutely nothing. We are left with more questions than answers as to how everything we saw relates to the sisters. We get the shocking ending which is mildly effective and serves to only confuse and detract.

But I am kind of nitpicking. In all due respect this is a typical horror sequel that fulfills it’s part of that gimmicky found footage expectation and usually it is enough for most horror film fans to get at least that. But the scares are abundant enough and the suspense is capably evident throughout.

It serves only to legitimately creep us out and entertain like most of the better “Found Footage” films out there that actually get it right. But as the sequels keep coming ( Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones being the latest) I fear that it would be hard to tell which entries will actually stand out as the better ones when the lines blur.

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12 comments

  1. I actually really liked this one and felt like they wracked-up the tension pretty damn nicely. Of course the franchise has gotten a bit nutty as of late, but at least this assured me that there is some new life to be breathed into it. Good review Vic.

    • The film was tense indeed and I think I enjoyed the build up during the first half of the film more than the last act and supposed payoff. You may have liked it more than me, though, but as far as sequels and found footage flicks go, it had it’s moments.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dan. I appreciate it, always!

  2. Good post Victor, I will probably never get around to seeing these. They just aren’t my thing. However, by the sounds of it if you are into these sorts of scare-tactic movies this one shouldn’t disappoint. It will be interesting to see how long the franchise lasts.

    • I do indeed enjoy scary films. But there are waaay too many out there (especially found footage types) to watch and the genre becomes quite inundated with really bad entries. So I have to carefully pick and choose the ones I watch and review since I love other film genres very much.

      Who knows how far this franchise will last. It’s anyone’s guess, I mean look at The Friday the 13th films, lol!

      Thanks for stopping in, Tom. It was great to hear from you, man. I really appreciate it!

    • Haven’t seen The Marked Ones. Read some really bad write ups.

      Thought the fourth was a quite mediocre. There is a director’s cut out there somewhere (maybe on Netflix?) that is supposed to be better but I’m not making any real effort to seek it out.

      Thanks for stopping by, Michael!

  3. This was the last one that I actually had fun with. Although I was purposely intoxicated due to figuring it may catch off-guard and make me jump, considering that the first and second failed at it. The Marked Ones is just as bad as people say and the fourth was so hard to pay attention too.

    Not really a fan of the series in all honesty, but this one was likely my favorite.

    • That’s funny, I’m not much of a fan of the series either but this one was ok. The 4th was indeed a bit hard to follow and stay focused on.

      Thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

  4. Great review man! I didn’t really care for the ending, but thought it operated really well as a horror film. Consistently scared me and kept the tension going. Definitely agree with your point with how its essentially a set-up for its sequel, but easily one of the better found footage films. Nice work Vic!

    • Thanks Jim! I may re-visit the first 2 next week and get a double review out for them at the same time.

      Overall the PA films are hit or miss but still somewhat entertaining in an over-saturated genre

      Glad you liked the review and I appreciate you stopping by. Thank you! 🙂

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