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Film Review: Paranormal Activity 3

Oct 31, 2011 06:22AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

Paranormal Activity 3 is much like the two films that preceded it. It tells the story of a family of four and their harrowing experiences of being tormented by a demon through the use of first person camera. This movie is another prequel, setting the events in 1988 and focusing on the two sisters when they were pre-teens.

This particular film series has crafted its own niche in the horror market. Instead of relying on gore to generate horror it instead builds tension through a “Where’s Waldo” type of study by the audience. Long stagnant shots dare the audience to spot the next gotcha moment before it happens. The newest film’s biggest addition to the series is the rotating camera made from an oscillating fan and the filmmakers make good use of it.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman do a good job getting very believable performances from the two young actresses in the film, in addition to the adults. These young actresses are very capable at setting up “jump out” scenes that have become a staple of the series. In fact they may have the best scare in the series in a fun segment that involves a mask and a closet.

In addition, this third film is by far the funniest of the three mixing in well placed tongue-in-cheek moments amongst the haunting. It also has more than its share of nods to the past including acid washed jeans, Teddy Ruxpin (the talking bear) and the oversized cordless phone -- all got a few laughs in our screening.

The movie went astray a bit when they make a few revelations about the family during the third act that I believe diminished the fear factor in the overall film. What made the first film -- and to a lesser extent the second film -- so effective is that the film is set in a suburban family home. The movies made it seem that this could be anyone’s home and that this horror could happen anywhere. When the third film tried to impart an explanation for the evil I think it distanced itself from that “this could be anyone” type of tone. In the end, even though it had an ample amount of jump and startle scenes, it does not leave a lasting impact that the first two films had on the audience.

To the film’s credit they stick with the first person camera technique to the bitter end. These films always have moments when the viewer questions why anyone would leave a camera running, much less keep the frame in the right place. But horror movies always need the viewer to suspend their disbelief and watch it for entertainment purposes. Paranormal Activity 3 does its job of delivering some scares and has some fun along the way. If you enjoyed the first two films you will likely have fun with this movie -- though the third time around is not quite as disturbing as the first.

Films like Paranormal Activity 3 – Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2 and Blair Witch Project


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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