While I’ll have to admit that even though I’m fan of Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity II, I was less than enthused when I first heard about Paranormal Activity III – I thought the storyline despite having unanswered questions pretty much ran it’s course. However, I was willing to give the current film a shot.
This time directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, known for their controversial Sundance film Catfish, build off the basic premise of the franchise – family terrorized by “things that go bump in the night” eventually they decide that there’s something more sinister causing their sleepless nights so they get a camera in hopes of capturing some ghostly evidence like a bad show on the Travel or Syfy channel.
The movie starts off with Sprague Grayden, Katie Featherston, and Billy Boland reprising their roles from the first two films before taking the audience back to 1988 where the rest of action takes place.
As the story unfolds, we’re treated to cursed sisters Kristi and Katie’s played by Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown childhood home movies taken by their mother Julie’s (Lauren Bittner) boyfriend, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) who is a wedding videographer. This allows Joost and Schulamn to introduce a nifty trick, rather than the shaky hand held camera effect or the multi – screen security camera view from the previous films, we get a video camera rigged to an oscillating fan base which gives off a great creepy effect as only some of the activity’s causes and effects are briefly shown then cut off in some sequences. The technique is a true testament to the directors’ talent and further proof that they’re not just one hit wonders in the filmaking world. It’s also obvious throughout the movie that Joost and Schulman have a lot fun with the 1980′s time frame which are good for a couple of bonafide laughs, the family gets a cordless phone or the is it possessed or not Teddy Ruxpin doll.
As the story progresses we learn that one of the sisters, Kristi, has an imaginary friend named Toby whom she refers with great intimacy and intimidation. It seems Toby is also a bit of a voyeur, one night when Dennis convinces Julie to video tape themselves in an act of “amore” when an earthquake interrupts them, the next morning Dennis looks over the footage and notices the shape of something gets outlined from the falling ceiling dust standing at the foot of their bed. Dennis starts to think there’s maybe more to Kristi’s imaginary friend but Julie is quick to dismiss it. Of course as we move on, everyone’s daily lives especially the nights are interrupted by unexpected thumps and noises even when there’s only one person in the house. These events cause Dennis and his videographer partner, Randy, to research and investigate the strange goings – on plaguing the family which is causes – you guessed it – all Hell to break loose.
There are definitely some quality scares especially involving a babysitter and a bed sheet when Julie and Dennis try to have a night away from it all and the girls’ grandmother is almost as spooky as the entity itself. Rest assured this a rare instance where the third installment is just as fresh and entertaining as the original and any suspense isn’t loss in this installment.
While I won’t give away the ending – it’s another cliffhanger of sorts – I will say that some questions from the Paranormal Activity franchise – like why them – get answered but more questions do pop up. And it is hard to overlook the adult sisters in the first two movies barely remembering such tragic events from childhood or who exactly is cataloging and viewing the footage found from these events?
The bottom line: check it out. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Paranormal Activity film franchise, one thing is for certain – they took the “found footage” horror genre that started with The Blair Witch Project to a whole new level.