My reviews of the first two movies can be found here.
Well, I guess I’ve nobody to blame but myself. Every time a Paranormal Activity movie comes out I get my hopes up and every time there seems to be a squandering of potential that disappoints me but keeps plenty of other people very happy indeed. It’s happened yet again with this instalment, a movie better than the dire Paranormal Activity 2 but not as good as Paranormal Activity.
Everyone knows the drill by now. Something happens in a house and a lot of cameras are set up to document any strange occurences. We’ve moved back in time now to see the start of everything with young Katy and Kristi Rey (the main female characters in the first two movies) and the movie provides a decent build up to an ending that then veers sharply elsewhere and becomes somewhat ridiculous. That’s it.
And here are the three big complaints.
First of all, let me point out one thing that has been bugging a lot of people who saw the movie. What you saw in any version of the trailer isn’t what you’re going to see in the movie. That’s right, the trailers have some good scenes in there that aren’t in the film at all. Remember that and you may not be quite as disappointed as some people were.
Second, even though a few of the scares this time around are a big improvement on the content of the second movie we get no context this time for seeing the videotape footage. In fact, the movie begins with a ridiculously contrived sequence in which adult Katy actually brings the box of videotapes to adult Kristi Rey before they disappear again and then we suddenly get to view the footage. It’s as if the makers of the movies have now become so lazy that they’ve just shrugged and gone “you came here to see rough videotape footage so here is some rough videotape footage.”
Third, despite the fact that an explanation is alluded to within the film there is just no way that viewers can believe that the girls involved forgot everything and grew up into relatively normal adults.
Those are big complaints and they really drag down the movie but, in other ways, the film gets some things right. There are a few good scares (most of them being jump scares but the tension throughout the second half of the movie is alwaya palpable). The acting is very good from all involved, especially young Jessica Tyler Brown and Chloe Csengery as the little sisters. And the camera set-ups work. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the men behind last year’s Catfish) do a pretty good job.
But then we get the other minor niggles that can always crop up with films of this type. Just why would so much of this stuff actually be filmed? The stationary (or panning) cameras are fine but walking around with a video camera glued to your hand just isn’t standard behaviour, whether hearing bumps in the night or not. And the continued development and opening up of the plot sits at odds with what worked so well about the concept in the first place – the simplicity and effectiveness of the scares and the premise of something going on that can’t be explained. Sadly, the two films after that first big hit have gone on to explain more and more and always in an absolutely dissatisfying manner.
Having said all that, everyone and their cousin has gone along to see this film on opening weekend (it’s been breaking records and paving the way for a fourth movie to come out NEXT October) and I’m starting to feel like the old grouch in the corner who just doesn’t accept that everyone else can like that awful racket they call music nowadays. Do go and see the movie if you must, find out what everyone is talking/arguing about. But, as they so often say in horror movie taglines, you have been warned.
DIRECTOR: HENRY JOOST, ARIEL SCHULMAN
WRITER: CHRISTOPHER B. LANDON
STARS: JESSICA TYLER BROWN, CHLOE SCENGERY, BRIAN BOLAND, LAUREN BITTNER, DUSTIN INGRAM
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX