Paranomal Activity is the third installment in the Paranomal Activity franchise which started from the sleeper hit in 2008 that earned $198 million worldwide from a $15,000 production budget. In this chapter (the prequel), events in 1988 revolving around the franchise’s lead Katie (Katie Featherston), and her sister Kristi are presented wherein they interact with an invisible presence which leads to tragic events for their family. The franchise, which is known for its documentary style approach of recording paranormal events through the use of “home videos,” still maintains the same technique wherein the girls’ mother’s boyfriend Dennis, mounts video cameras around their home to figure out what is behind strange occurrences happening inside their home.
For the record, I was seriously unimpressed with Paranormal Activity 1, which I thought was really boring and too similar to the Blair Witch Project. At the beginning of Paranormal 3, I thought I was going to be in for the same old tricks because of the slow pacing intended to establish the continuity of the three films. This time around, however, filmmakers improved on the already workable elements of the first two movies (Paranomal 2 was released in 2010), to add some suspense to presentation of the “home videos.” This time, instead of simply mounting cameras and leaving them at one angle, there are mirrors that show different perspectives, and there is also this brilliant segment wherein Dennis invents a makeshift platform for his camera using the oscillator of a deskfan enabling the camera to pan left and right at specific intervals. There is also a divider in the middle of room which provides a blind spot in the center, establishing a short window to transition from one part of the room to the other where viewers can expect paranormal events to occur.
At the beginning, the waiting gets kind of tedious, but it all becomes worth it when the paranormal events level up with more aggressive hauntings. Filmmakers were able to provide a solid story to make sense of the hauntings (which follow the girls in the next movies) and were able to create openings to be answered in parts 1 and 2. The prolonged silences that echo throughout the rooms also made the setting more spooky, leading audiences to concentrate on what would happen next. The effects were very subtle and needed no great special effects or CGI but it was very effective in its end results.
Another good thing about the movie is that it managed to pool together a great cast. The kids are very cute and very natural in their portrayal, especially Kristi who has direct contact with “Toby,” her imaginary friend who compels her to do things she does not want to. Dennis and Julie also provided a perfect backdrop of a young couple in the ’80s who are very carefree and in love with each other while trying to raise a family. Dennis was especially likeable as the boyfriend who relates well with his girlfriend’s children from a previous marriage especially with his genuine concern and protectiveness of the girls when the paranormal events take place.
There is not much to be said of Paranormal Activity 3 except that was a good surprise for me. Its great for a couple of scares while in the cinema, and a great movie to watch with friends as the darkness in the theater amplifies the overall spookiness of the film. It isn’t as creepy as The Ring or as bothering as The Blair Witch project but it was good while it lasted.