A Review of “Paranormal Activity 3”

Oh noes! I forgot to publish this. This is from AGES ago, and I guess I just forgot about it. Oh well. Enjoy it all the same. -Josh

Though others decry the Paranormal Activity series as dull and dumb, I’ve always been a big supporter of it. The first film is simple and effective, the second ups the stakes without being repetative, and now we have the third film in the trilogy. And guess what? It might be the best of the three.

For a second sequel to a horror film (especially in this day and age), the fact that Paranormal Activity 3 succeeds as much as it does is somewhat shocking. I’d be hard-pressed to name another horror trilogy that works so well and that doesn’t lose steam. The second film shook things up in multiple ways: It added several cameras to get multiple angles on the action, the haunted people are now a family of four with a dog, not a young couple. Paranormal Activity 2 may not have had the best scares of the trilogy, but its focus on mythology and characters rather than stale, cheap scares made it remarkable for a horror sequel. And the latest film does the same thing.

This film is actually a prequel*, showing what happened to perpetually terrorized sisters Katie and Kristi as children. There have been indications and discussions of the events surrounding this time period in previous films, but now we finally get to see them. However, there’s a slight problem that arises because of this. The demon is very extreme in this film; he never tries to hide his paranormal behavior. So why is he so subtle in the first two movies? If the series is watched in chronological order, the stakes vanish along the way.

Anyway, the scares are extremely effective. I think that this film, more-so than the others, needs to be seen in a packed theater. The first film worked so well because it was terrifying when watched at home alone, late at night with all the lights off. The scope of this one is much larger, and so are the scares, so you really need that big screen and a group of terrified people for the film to work.

Of course, I still recommend it highly, and I urge you to check this series out. I think that it is treated rather unfairly by a lot of people. It’s a lot smarter than it appears. You just need to invest yourself in it.

*Something I love about the series is the way that it works backwards. Each film takes place before the previous one, and we learn more about the series and why the story ends the way it does, rather than doing a Saw thing and adding retcons into its sequels as a half-hearted attempt to add mythology.

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Josh Rosenfield

Josh Rosenfield is a Film Media major at the University of Rhode Island. He has been writing Popcorn Culture since 2010.

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