Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 24 October 2011

Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)


RATING: 3/5

With a combined gross of more than $190 million at the box-office, both PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) were no doubt one of the most successful low-budget horror movies ever made in recent memory. And like it or not, here's PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3. Yes, it's more of the same old "found footage" horror genre you've already seen before. But kudos goes to CATFISH directors duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman manage to showcase some effective jolts and even some inspired tinkering within its formulaic structure.


A prequel which set in the year of 1988, 8-year-oid Katie (Chloe Csengery) and 5-year-old Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) live with mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her wedding videographer boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith) in a cozy suburban home in Santa Rosa, CA. Dennis is particularly very obsessed on videotaping every moment of their routine life and one particular night, he decides to record a lovemaking session between him and Julie on the bed. But that moment of intimacy is quickly disrupted by sudden earthquake. The following day when Dennis replay the tape, he discovers there's an invisible entity appears somewhere within the dust falling from the ceiling. He feels intrigued by the presence, and decides to set up his own paranormal investigation by setting up two camcorders upstairs in each bedroom and another one rigged to a modified table fan downstairs. He hits the record button and waits if there's something unusual might occurred again.

In the meantime, Kristi starts to behave strangely as she claims to have befriended with an imaginary old man in the house named Toby. However, Katie likes to tease her for claiming Toby's existence is real. As day by day goes by, it soon becomes increasingly clear that there's something wrong with the house which is related to Toby's existence.

While the first two movies are more rigid-looking, this third entry sees Joost and Schulman willing to let loose a bit as they tease around with the formula by adding some comic relief within its familiar "false alarm" jump scene. Another worthwhile moment is Joost and Schulman's creative display of introducing a fan-mounted camera. We watches the fan swivels slowly from left and right, revealing both of the living room and kitchen one at a time. In one particularly creepy scene, a mysterious figure under a white sheet attempts to stalk a babysitter named Lisa (Johanna Braddy) which is obviously a great homage to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978). Apart from that, Joost and Schulman have successfully ratcheting up some worthwhile tension especially during the second half onwards. Such bone-chilling scenes are including a Bloody Mary game involving Katie and Dennis' assistant Randy (Dustin Ingram) in the bathroom; a POLTERGEIST-inspired scene in the kitchen; the bedroom scene where one of the little girls being harassed violently by an invisible entity; and of course the disturbing finale which offers a grim and unexpected twist.

For now, it's good to see that there's still life left in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3. But here lies the question: with the open ending towards its finale, just how far the filmmakers can go to push the boundaries for this PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise? It's obvious there are going to be PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 in the near future, but let's hope the filmmakers can end up with a satisfying closure the next time round.

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