Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Fear 5/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

I initially had no desire to see this. I didn't care for PA2 and it's goofy mythos that attempted to explain what it was that was haunting our afflicted families. And I didn't particularly care for the almost identical set of scares that were employed in the first one (minus the daytime kitchen scene which was pulled off nicely). But when effusive praise came by way of many of my fellow bloggers, both after advance screenings and opening night viewings, I became curious. Well it got the best of me this past weekend and I must say the direction the story has taken about a demonically stalked family is pretty ingenious. Oh yeah, and the scares this time around are much more inventive. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they're better than the ones doled out in the first go around.

Our film begins with video of sisters Kristi and Kate meeting, the former is in the midst of pregnancy (with the little tyke that is taken in PA2) and the latter is there to hand off a box of videos for storage in their basement. Flash forward a bit in time, and we see the husband coming home (to presumably the break-in which occurred at the beginning of PA2) and he finds the box of videos missing. Are you with me?

We then go back in time as tape begins to roll that was recorded way back in the late 80's. Who's watching the film exactly is unknown but we see the little sisters in the backyard of a family party. Little Kristi is seen in the background, talking to herself. Or is she?

The boyfriend of their mother happens to be a video editor and is enamored with his new toy, encouraging mom to get down and funky with him that night on camera. But their boom boom, get down tonight, bumping and grinding fun times get interrupted when an earthquake strikes and the family has to take cover.

The next day, the boyfriend reviews the tape and sees a figure moving across the screen after the camera had hit the floor and rolled around during the quake. This coupled with Kristi's invisible friend named Toby is enough to spook the boyfriend. So begins our camera set-up and daily review of the tape that has become a regular part of the series.

So the film pretty much follows suit as the previous two films with paranormal occurrences taking place subtly and then ratchet up as we go along. From Kristi hanging out in the hallway at night to chairs moving around to bedroom blankets being flung, things start to get hairier and hairier. One of the best scares is pulled off in what I will only describe as the kitchen furniture scene in Poltergeist times 1,000.

But that's not where the film's success lies. It takes a bit of a 180 as the boyfriend starts to research possessions and witchcraft after seeing symbols which Kristi has drawn in her crawlspace hideout. As things get crazier in the house and the family leaves to go stay with the girls' grandmother, we come to find that  grandma is involved with a group that has less than favorable intentions for the girls. Our two most horrifying scares come within the last 20 min of our film and boy, are they doozies.

Credit must be given to filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) for churning out some really inventive scares which show that maybe a dead horse isn't beaten here. Based on the box office haul, we'll be seeing another one of these films come Halloweentime next year. OK by me if they continue to be of the quality of PA3.

P.S. I love how the marketing of the films continue to be misleading and a bit of a red herring. So the actual scares aren't revealed in the trailers. Brilliant.

Cortez the Killer


The Film Connoisseur said...

Glad you liked it POT! I had a lot of fun with this one, loved the slow burner scares, like the ones with the babysitter in the kitchen?

I just hope future sequels wont be watered downed stinkers!

Chris Hallock said...

Ha! So glad to have you in my camp with this, along with Andre at Horror Digest!

I was also very impressed with the direction this series is heading. I might actually go see this again tonight after reading your review, CtK!

MarkusWelby1 said...

Loved the first, totally hated the second. Willing to give the third a chance. That's a pretty glowing review, but I'm hopeful because it seems we're feeling the same about PA2.

Planet of Terror said...

@TFC, I hope so too. And frankly, I'd rather see a new PA movie than a new Saw movie every Halloween.

@Chris, that makes three of us! I kid. Actually, I'm very surprised how much the blogosphere likes this one pretty much unanimously. I can't wait to get it on BluRay and experience it at home with a group of friends. I think it will play really well.

@Markus, what bugged me the most about PA2 was the young daughter who came to the demon conclusion after doing an internet search. I just thought it was really silly and didn't really come through organically in the film. I would have much rather have nothing explained and then PA3, with more of the back story, being the 'grand reveal.' I guess the angle in PA3 could be no less silly but the way the boyfriend researched it and it was a running theme through most of the story, made it feel like a part of the film and not out of left field like PA2. And it didn't take me out of the experience as well.

The Man-Cave said...

Told ya it was rad! Glad you liked it, dude. Oscillation fan cameras ftw!

Omar said...

I was disappointed with this. The first one was amazing. The second was better than I expected (but I have had very low expectations for every sequel ever since, at a tender age and having loved the first Saw, I was dick-punched by Saw 2 and thus learned cynicism).
A few of the scares were decent, but a lot of them had been done before and the movie took forever to get going, which I didn't appreciate since I felt I knew what was coming anyway. The Grandmother angle gave the hump, big time.
And who was the set designer? Who did the wardrobe? The only thing that looked like the 80's to me was the family car and the video camera, everything else was very modern looking. The film in general put me in a haughty mood.
I will of course see numbers 4 through 12 when they come out.