No, dammit! TIS NOT CHRISTMAS YET! I refuse to do Christmas movies until December 1 hits, and that’s not til tomorrow! NO CHRISTMAS MOVIE REVIEWS FOR YOU!
Sadly, this also means my choices for relevant movies are equally as tiny. I mean the only thing playing that would even remotely fit the category of this respectable column would be the last Twilight movie or Life of Pi. If you don’t already understand why that first one isn’t an option, please go outside and interact with the world so you can see why people think it’s a “classic love story.” If so, warning, be prepared to be shocked. While Life of Pi isn’t as intellectually insulting as the first, doesn’t seem like my cup of tea. There’s also The Collection, but come on guys, I need to be able to sleep to write these things, and I can’t do that while I’m plagued by nightmares!
So what did I choose to fuel my horrible dreams instead? Why the first half decent thing I could find on Netflix. Paranormal Activity 3 it is.
So, yes, the infamous Paranormal Activity series is one of the biggest and more profitable franchises since the Saw series hit theaters in the early 2000s. Found footage films are a recent novelty in the horror genre and it is extremely polarizing. I personally find them annoying but this series tends to use the style better than The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. It’s not something I hold against the movie, but I get that it’s not for everyone and some people won’t watch it just because of this . Now that’s I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the movie itself.
The plot takes place in 1988, looking back at the past of our two doomed sisters, Katie and Kristi. This is actually a prequel which explains how the story of demon possession and baby stealing all began back in the day. They begin talking to an invisible friend, who of course like to beat the crap out of people and scares the entire house. The two small children, rather than running away and never returning, decide it’ll be fun to talk and mess with it, even doing the old Bloody Mary trick in their bathroom. Because that’s exactly what you should do when there’s an invisible, angry, violent entity in your house who has shown he isn’t afraid to hurt you.
Basically, the long and short of it is (Spoilers, by the way) it’s a cult, to which their grandmother is a member and the demon is in some way attached to Katie forever, which explains why she gets possessed in the first movie. Personally, whenever a cult is involved, I just roll my eyes. It is the great cope out of screenwriting, and here it’s no exception since we know very little about the group itself, so it seems like a quick fix. Why would demons need to possess children? What’s the point of that when there are plenty of adults who can get pregnant immediately? Why boys? Demons are obviously very powerful – they don’t need human bodies to really do damage. To say this adds more questions to the franchise and makes the narrative a lot less interesting would be generous.
The quality of the video used, and the colors are actually improved, which is funny because this film takes place in the late 1980s – not a period well known for its stellar home video technology. In terms of the special effects, the producers and directors really upped the ante with this film. While there’s always been a lot of people flying and things going bump in the night, the actions are a lot more physical now, with cuts and flying objects and children being dragged around by their hair. What this film lacks in plot, it makes up for 10 fold in its use of imagery.
The acting at times seems to be a cross between stiff and over dramatic. The children actually do better than the adults in my opinion, if only because their reactions seem more genuine. The adults seem to be going to the motions more often than legitimately scared, but they do pull off real fear when it really counts the most. I think a lot more could have been done in the movie proper with these characters, especially the mother, but it’s thrown away for scares. Is that a bad thing? Not really – the scares are really good. Just not good enough to hide the fact that there’s little character development.
In the end, while Paranormal Activity 3 loses some of the punch of the first two that kept me cowering in my seat, it’s still better than a lot of the “original” horror films that have been coming out in the last year or so. If you like the franchise, it’s worth a watch, but it’s not what I consider the best of the movies. If you’re wondering why this review is on the short side, it’s because this movie left me sort of emotionless and unsatisfied- it was scary but it’s wasn’t as thrilling as the other two films. And yes, someday I will review Paranormal Activity 4…someday. When it’s on Netflix.
– Much better cinematography.
– Interesting concept in terms of story.
– Great use of special effects.
– Ending seems a little too out of left field.
– Confusing in terms of placement within the narrative.
– Some acting is a little stiff.