Scary movies are a rare breed these days, so it’s refreshing when a film comes along that literally makes you jump out of your seat while watching it. The first Paranormal Activity succeeded in doing this, as did its sequel, which I actually enjoyed even more. When a series gets to the third film, worry sets in as to can the filmmakers manage to scare audiences again now that they know what to expect. Fortunately for fans of this series (you know who you are!), they will not be disappointed by this third entry. Not only does it maintain the creepy, edge of your seat moments that occupied the first two films, it manages in some ways to surpass them. Overall, it’s my second favorite of the series…behind the second one. However, each film in this trilogy has been just as entertaining as the other and I appreciate the consistency with which each one has been produced. These films are not just thrown together…they are carefully thought out and sticking to a formula that obviously works is a smart plan.
****BEWARE – SPOILERS BELOW****
PA 3 begins where PA 2 left off, sort of. We get a few images reminding us of what happened in the second film, with Katie and her sister, Kristy. Of course, the images shown are prior to the crazy ass conclusion of the film and before the birth of Kristy’s child that Katie eventually kidnaps and vanishes into the unknown. I am thinking that if they keep making these films, eventually we will find out what happened to the two of them. After a quick look back at part two’s events, we are suddenly in the year 1988, where a young Katie and a young Kristy live with their mother, Julie, and her boyfriend, Dennis, in a house that appears to have another un-welcomed guest…Kristy’s imaginary friend, Toby. At first, Kristy is the only one who can see, touch, and feel Toby, but that quickly changes. After witnessing a couple of strange events, Dennis, who is a video producer of some sort, sets up cameras throughout the home to see if he can catch any of these events. He does, of course, although he refuses to tell Julie fearing that she will freak out. He monitors the events on a daily basis and as time goes by, they get increasingly more frequent. This is the point where I begin to have issues with the film…and not just this one, but the other two as well. Seriously, what more does a person need to see before they hit the road…take off, leave the freakin’ house?? I would have been gone after the first night, but for some reason these people stick around and wait for more craziness to happen.
The build up of the PA movies is the best part about them. Each film follows the same format of teasing the audience for the first half of the picture, then slowly increasing the tension and thrills as it enters the final act. The final acts are the big payoffs and PA 3 does not let you down. Julie, still oblivious to what’s going on, is the final person to witness the reality of what’s going on in her own home. This spirit, or demon as most would call it, is Kristy’s friend…not anyone else’s. In fact, Toby obviously takes pride in scaring everyone else in the home. However, when Katie gets dragged into a closet in one scene, Kristy stands up to Toby and demands that Katie be let go. Toby does so and Kristy tells the entity ”I never want to talk to you again”. Not a good idea as this angers Toby. From that moment on, the occurances intensify and eventually drive them out of their home. They go Julie’s mothers home and hope that all of the noises and run ins with Toby will stop. Unfortunately for them, not only do they not stop, but we uncover a terrible secret that ol’ grandma has been hiding for many, many years. I will admit that when we get a few scenes with grandma in the beginning of the film, it’s not too difficult to tell that this woman probably has something to do with what’s going on in her family. Her dark circled eyes are a dead giveaway. I’m not going to spoil any more of the film for you, but know that it gets really nasty in grandma’s house and nobody is safe. Not even her flesh and blood. The ending is a perfect Paranormal Activity type finale that has you really tense and gets your heart racing. Grandma appears to be the ringleader for all of the mayhem that has happened over the course of three films, but who knows, there may be more twists coming in future films.
The acting in this film is really, really good. Now, we are not talking Oscar material here, but for a bunch of rather unknown actors, I give credit where it is due. The standout has to be young Kristy, played by Jessica Tyler Brown. You believe that this little girl is happy to have an imaginary friend, but also fears him and is afraid to talk about him to anyone. Toby tells her to keep what they talk about to herself…but as a child, it’s really difficult to do so. She wants to tell her sister, especially, and when Katie refuses to believe her, Kristy gets upset and gets picked on a bit. Toby doesn’t like this and immediately makes Katie a target. By the end of the film, both sisters are possessed by the demon…and as you know by seeing the other films, Katie is the most possessed of them all. This is kind of funny now knowing that she was the sister who didn’t believe in the entity to begin with. We get a few scenes of Katie Featherstone, who has been the only player in all 3 films and I’m sure she will return for another, and another. The conclusion of this one does indeed leave the door open for more films.
Unlike the Saw series, which really began to take a nosedive after the first couple of films, Paranormal Activity appears to have a formula that will succeed no matter how many they make. If they can keep the twists coming, as well as keep audiences scared to death, then I see no reason to stop making them. I know these type of films are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I appreciate a good scary movie. Let’s face it, they are few and far between these days and I consider PA the definition of the terms ‘scary’ and ‘frightening’. I can also understand, however, how some moviegoers may be growing tired of the same old formula. Not me…this is a formula that works and succeeds in doing what it sets out to do. PA 3 leaves your blood pumping, your heart racing, and you wanting for more. That is a successful ‘horror’ film and this is one of the best overall horror film franchises in a long time.
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