Only one year after Paranormal Activity 2, the studio released Paranormal Activity 3. You didn’t expect them to sit on such a hit, did you? Given the quick release of this film, I figured this, finally, would be where the franchise took a turn and became horrible. Joke’s on me, because this film was awesome, too. How can this keep happening?!?
Paranormal Activity 3 is a flashback to the 80s. This film is about Katie and Kristi as children, back when they lived with their mom and their mom’s boyfriend Dennis. The movie kicks off with Daniel and Kristi in the present day finding some old footage of her and her sister, which he promptly records over. It does serve as a segue way to the past, which is where the film spends all of its time. Turns out creepy shit happens in 80s, too. Shocker! When they were young, Kristi interacted with an imaginary friend named Toby and strange things start happening throughout the house.
This film sticks with the winning formula: slow building suspense leading up to an epic ending. For some variety, this film is more jumpy than the previous two, which was a nice change and one that wasn’t used in excess. There are multiple cameras in this house, too, but not for any reason other than curiosity. Dennis is extremely curious with the noises and bumps in the night, so he sets up a camera in the girls’ room and down in the kitchen/living room. It isn’t quite as good of an excuse as the first two films, but I bought it.
This film has two things the previous two did not that help it become as good as those. First, it has kids. You know... kids tend to make things scarier. The second movie had a teenager and a baby, but those don't count. A girl talking to an imaginary friend in the middle of the night is kind of creepy. There’s also a scene with Katie and the Bloody Mary game of all our youths that is terrifying. If you find you don’t buy into the paranormal, kids help the cause. Kids are innocent and pure and it’s easier for the audience to believe something if a child believes it.
Second, in this movie, Dennis uses ingenuity to place the camera in the living room/kitchen on top of a torn apart desk fan. Now, the camera pans from the living room to the kitchen at the slow speed of a 1980s fan. This creates a paranoia amongst the audience. As the camera slowly made its way from one room to the other, I held my breath as I waited to see what was in the other room. The kitchen could be entirely peaceful in one moment, but by the time the camera makes it back, who knows what’s waiting.
It’s more likely for lightning to strike twice (or at all) than it is for three films in a franchise to be ranked the same and ranked well. I can’t believe I even enjoyed these movies, never mind rated them so high. Here’s hoping the fourth film doesn’t ruin this near-perfect franchise. As of right now, the Paranormal Activity films are one of the few recent entries to actually be saving horror.
If you liked Paranormal Activity 3, you might also like Paranormal Activity 4, Final Destination and Poltergeist.