The third time is the charm? It certainly charmed the box office (so look out for a fourth) and returned much on the investment. There are some good jump scares, but maybe the formula is a bit too noticeable as well.
Again, those box office numbers will negate any criticism since Paramount is laughing all the way to the bank.
2005 – Katie (Katie Featherston) delivers a box of videotapes to her sister Kristi’s (Sprauge Grayden) house. Kristi and her husband Daniel (Brian Boland) dump them in their basement. A year later their house is ransacked and the tapes are missing.
Flashback to 1988 – Young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) are living with their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith).
Dennis is a wedding videographer but he starts to record the normal goings on at the house when he notices some odd footage after an earthquake, not to mention that Kristi starts to talk about an imaginary friend named Toby. As we watch the contents of the (now missing) tapes, we discover that something sinister is happening in this once happy household.
Paranormal Activity thrives on the “found footage” genre that sprung up with Blair Witch. I’m guessing the trope has pretty much been uncovered since those thinking that Blair Witch was real soon discovered that it was all made up. Paranormal Activity was a surprise hit made for little and making tens of millions, thus becoming a franchise.
The first film was some jump scares interspersed with some less than exciting footage. To my memory this third part does up the scare quotient a bit (never got around to part 2) but it creates a prequel for the unlucky gals that have been the subjects of all three films. We look back into their childhood and maybe see the origins of their troubles (will part four continue into the future or be a pre-prequel?).
Now as with most found footage flicks you have to come up with an idea of why your protagonists always insist on filming everything. In making one of our characters a videographer they do that, but does he always have to carry the camera with him? I hear a noise – better grab my camera. They do come up with a clever ruse in the form of a homemade oscillating camera that just as something scary happens it takes off on its given path and slowly pans back again.
The kids and adults seem real enough, but you know their actors and casting familiar faces in those roles would give away the gag (that got given away not too long after Blair Witch).
Having skipped PA2 I can only comment on this one and I found it had some jump moments but even those are a bit worn by film three. It also had some head scratching moments (such as the ever present camera) and the first image that they capture should’ve had them running out of the house or calling Ghostbusters.
Paranormal Activity 3 is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.85:1). You also get another cut of the film that adds about 10 more minutes of footage. Special features are pretty bare (though in high def) and include a 2 minute “Scare montage” of Dennis frightening Julie and a 1 minute commercial for Dennis’ video business. That’s it. Scary wasn’t it? You do get a DVD/digital copy of the film.
Paranormal Activity 3 does feature both the paranormal and some activity. There’s the occasional lull getting to that activity (though not as many as the first film), but there are some effective jump scares. They do make it a little twist that we’re watching what amounts to a flashback to the origins of the scares.
Visit the DVD database for more information.