Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman take their stab at the Paranormal series with the third film that plays out as a prequel, happening years before the creepy events of the first two films. Paranormal Activity 3 does nothing to separate itself from the previous two films. It follows the PA formula to the last second, resulting in the worst film of the bunch. Its scares are less scary and the story is transparent. All it does is peak at the roots of the demon-stalked family and offer more jumps that can be achieved by using household products.
Discover how the activity began in Paranormal Activity 3. Young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi Rey (Jessica Tyler Brown) are the focus points of Paranormal Activity 3. Their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) provide the most “acting”, but at the end of the day the films focus is on Katie and Kristi.
Dennis is a video cameraman that tapes weddings and family events. After hearing some weird sounds throughout the house he decides to set up some cameras and capture whatever it is that is haunting the family. The more the footage reveals a ghost/figure, the more Kristi Rey’s imaginary friend Toby comes into play. Despite the red flags that the footage pops up, Dennis continues to bother the spirit and piss off his family.
How this series is still making profitable money is beyond me. I get the hype behind the first film, I really do. Paranormal Activity brought back the cheaply made found-footage genre. It’s the Blair Witch Project of this generation and I applaud it for that. Paramount made a smart decision picking it up for nearly nothing and slowly releasing it. In the films defense, it’s not half bad. Some of the simplistic effects add some tension to the film and the sound use and show-less/hear-more approach is clever filmmaking, but that’s really all the film has going for it.
Paranormal Activity 2 was a no-brainer at this point. I’d assume the opening weekend was kind to the film because everyone wanted to see if they could recreate the first films feel and it didn’t. PA 2 swapped out clever camera tricks and cheap resources for big-budget laziness. The scariest point of the film was when the pool cleaner arose from the pool! The film took more than enough time to pick itself up and then it ended abruptly, leaving you with even more unanswered questions.
Realizing they have to actually write a script for the finale of the series, Paramount went the prequel route, hoping to keep the audience hooked while figuring out where to take the series next. PA 3 had promise because of directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. The two made the 2010 film Catfish, which was again, all build up and little reward. Still, at least they were trusting actual filmmakers to make the next entry in a very lucrative series. PA 3 shows that they haven’t progressed as filmmakers and that they simply collected a quick paycheck.
Hats off to them for seizing the opportunity, but at the same time they added little interest to the actual film. The camera shots are getting less inventive, using a rotating fan as the source of “building tension”. The non-acting from the cast is forgivable and not that distracting, but the demon encounters, that used to be kind of disturbing are now funny. Toby is seen (or not seen) in this film picking up one of the girls by her hair and whipping her across the room.
Stuff like this in the first film was mysterious and unexplainably eerie, but in PA3 it’s just funny. I see no lasting appeal in the Paranormal films. They’ve gone from clever to tiresome in a matter of years. Bring back Saw, please. At least that series kept the body count high and the twists mildly entertaining.
Paranormal Activity 3 comes to Blu-Ray with a 1080p video transfer that captures the look and feel of a 1980’s VHS recorder. The image is unfocused and lacking of detail, but the colors aren’t as beaten up as you’d expect. The film looks better than an actual tape from the 80’s, but it does look noticeably worse than the second and first films video transfers, which is exactly what they were going for.
The shining moment of the entire film is its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Despite the film being “recorded” on a VHS camera, the audio track is evenly mixed and loud. It’s an effective track that is constantly thumping and keeping you on your toes.
The package comes with barely any special features. I’ve detailed a complete list below.
- Theatrical Cut (1 hour, 24 minutes)
- Unrated Director’s Cut (1 hour, 33 minutes): I didn’t really notice a difference, but there were a few added scenes that don’t enhance the overall film in any way, but provide the fans with more to chew on.
- Scare Montage (HD): A brief montage of Dennis scaring Julie.
- Dennis’ Commercial (HD): An intentionally poorly made commercial for Dennis’ business.
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I’ve seriously had it with the Paranormal Activity films. They’ve had two sequels to really stretch out the story and give us a little more insight on this creepy demon haunting the family, yet all they’ve done is hinted at what it is and why during the last 5 minutes of each film. Paranormal Activity 3 is a repeat of the second film, but in the 1980’s. The scares are now funny and the build-up is removed for more 5 minute reveals that keep getting lazier and lazier. You spend most of the time staring at empty spaces, with an occasional plate falling over.
The last few minutes reveal some obvious information that was basically a given at this point. You’re left wanting to watch the next film to see how it ends, but just the thought of sitting down for another two hours and watching a PA film is scarier than all three films combined. Don’t do this to us anymore!
The Blu-Ray disc is the films worst enemy. The look and feel of a film shot in the 1980’s on a VHS recorder is present on the disc. The video represents the unappealing video the film was trying to replicate. The audio is better, despite the real logic behind it. The special features are only a few minutes long, adding nothing but a few more laughs.
Paramount was kind enough to include a DVD copy of the film and two digital copies. The basic digital copy can be used in iTunes and the UltraViolet version can be streamed on any device.
These films aren’t all that good, yet people keep paying to see them. One thing I think most can agree on is the effectiveness of watching these at a loud theater with dozens of people. It somehow increases the “fun factor”. The Blu-Ray will suffice for the fans, but everyone else will want to skip on this disc.
The Blu-Ray will suffice for the fans, but everyone else will want to skip on this disc.