Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Directed by: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Written by: Christopher Landon, Oren Peli
Starring: Chloe Csengery, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Jessica Tyler Brown
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
THE HUGHES VERDICT!
Its amazing really, just when the studio’s were worried that the had milked every last drop out of their guaranteed Halloween box office gold SAW
franchise then along comes another title to take over the mantle. At the moment everything Paranormal Activity
is gold for the horror genre. The second sequel has broken its own takings and the critical acclaim it has received has only gained more positivity to the franchise, already they are plans for a 4th film to be released-yes you guessed it-next Halloween and for me who was seduced by the beauty of the original only a mere three years ago, I was excited to sit down to watch the new film even though I am one of the last HCF
critics to do so.
Paranormal Activity has comer along way since the simple delights of the first one. The film was hardly known until that now infamous story involving Steven Spielberg entered the news. If you do not know this story then you really should not call yourself a horror fan because it was that story alone that cemented the reputation of the original and the reason why it was rushed into cinema’s. Its also Spielberg whose responsible for the film becoming what it is now. The original ending had Katie kill Micah before walking up to the camera and slitting her throat but that was deemed too dark and it was changed to the one where after she has killed Micah, she rocks back and fore for a few hours until the police turn up who then shoot her dead. Both versions are on the original DVD release, but Spielberg wanted more and the version we saw opened up a whole new possibilities which of course because of the record takings, the studio have bee more than happy to explore!
I sometimes wonder where the series would have gone if the original ending stayed intact because I was one of a few who actually thought the franchise would be better if it went from different story in each sequel but having seen the awful Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Nights, I can see why Spielberg is more clever than me. The film does not work when its taken out of the universe its created and that is why we have now had three films involving the character of Katie.
The original was such a simple delight for what it was. Here we had two people who suspected they were being haunted and set up a cameras in their bedroom. Such simplicity led to many chills and I remember a review by our old friends over on Cult Of Cinema in which the critic Dante Inferno called the whole “watch” experience of being drowned. It really was a wonderful film, helped all the more by the fact it was different to all the gore porn that was and still is, hitting the market.
To get a franchise going the creators needed to add more weight to the story and we was introduced to Katie’s sister Kristi was heavily pregnant and was also suffering from things that go bump in the night. The film worked like a prequel/sequel with the storyline running across the same path as what was happening in the original. Of course by adding the new additions to what was a simple concept, it also cause a spilt in the fan camp with those not accepting the fact that Katie not once in the first film mentioned that the same thing was happening to her sister. It was an argument which I fully understood from those who were angry at the changes but the film had enough worthwhile scares and jolts to forget those gapping plot holes.
The problem we have now is that because the studio want to keep the money rolling in, we now have a third film and yes you have guessed it, a further expansion in the story and those who complained about those holes are only going to complain even more.
Paranormal Activity 3 sees the plot line go back 18 years before the events of the original. To explain this we witness an opening five minute scene of a heavily pregnant Kristie painting the nursery and Katie walks in to ask can she store some boxes in her basement. In those boxes are old VHS tapes in which the two sisters wonder what are on them. The fact they do not watch this there and then or the fact they never have, and the fact I can not get my head around the fact Katie has these anyhow (when you get to the end you understand why?) is the first question that will be ringing through your head. We do get a clever twist on the “burglary” from the sequel which did stun me but I can not go into that in this review because it spoils the ending of this film.
The film zooms into 1988 which left me wondering “who is watching these tapes?” and we see the two sisters when they were young, a nice little touch because we now see this “ghost” start his little game many years earlier, something which Katie referenced in the last two films. The reason why all this gets filmed again is because the mother Julie (Lauren Bittner)
has a new boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) who just happens to be a Wedding Cameraman, quite handy really when you need some camera’s.
At first the film like them all starts off slow and its only when we have the first hint of bedroom sex (an answer to all those wise cracks in the audience) that there is something amiss. The horny duo are stopped in their tracks when a earthquake strikes and when Dennis looks back on the tapes, he notices the dust hit what seems like a shape in the bedroom. Before we the viewer know it, the film is back on track and the well known formula of camera’s set around the house in hope to see things spooky. By now we all know what is coming and like always the spooks start slow before building to a violent conclusion.
After the third time though do the scares hold up?
Well yes, there are three wonderful jump your skin moments with two actually not involving the ghost at all. One thing you can guarantee with these films is having a good fright and I loved some of the set-pieces here. Also we get ones scene which is the best the franchise has ever done, it involves a white bed sheet which is the coolest image since Michael Myers decided to put one over his entire body way back in the 70’s.
The ghost which is finally given a name here “Toby” is still a vicious bastard when he wants to be but this time while the scares are good we do get the first signs of creaking famility in the franchise and I was not hooked like I once was. Furniture gets moved, a bit of sleep waking and watching others sleep, lights flicker, yes fans all what you have seen before is here and present but this time does not chill like it once did!
It seems though the writers expected this and then comes the last twenty minutes which for the first time in many years of an horror franchise, stunned me for its sudden turn. No one will guess what is coming because it rips up everything that went on before. I honestly had to watch this film twice to get my head around the whole change around. I have never seen a franchise jump onto a different path before and I am still wondering if it was a good thing or not!
My wife who watches nearly every horror with me called the last twenty minutes “the most frightening” of the entire franchise and I can see where she is coming from because if it strikes the right chord with you then you are in for a good time, but for me while I write this I am beginning to doubt the direction this has taken. Gone are the clues from the second film which are no longer relevant, we now have a whole new path but by creating it they have left even more unanswered questions.
Katie mentions a fire when she was a child in the original when does that happen? What happens after the events of this? How can Katie and her sister forget everything and how the heck did those videotapes end up with Katie and never watched? To answer these they really need to make yet another prequel otherwise fans like myself will be left deeply frustrated because you can not set out a story with clues and then change the plot when you want to and leave unanswered questions, I mean what is this? Lost
If you love the first two then you will enjoy this third film because it does not much wrong, you may need to suspend disbelief but then you have had to for a while, but its the end I am more curious about from fans! Because I be asking the question “what did you think of it? Jump the Shark? or a clever new plot vice?”….
BTW….Must give the creators a must deserved credit for releasing a trailer that has scenes not in the movie. A really clever twist and markerting ploy there!
[pt-filmtitle]Paranormal Activity 3[/pt-filmtitle]