Review – Paranormal Activity 3 May Be The Best One Yet!

In lieu of the normal “This Weekend At The Movies” column, I’ve decided to focus on reviewing the one film I think you should be seeing this weekend.  This is most definitely Monster Popcorn’s Pick of the Week.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.  Starring Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Sprague Grayden, Lauren Bittner and Katie Featherston.

In 1988, before the events of Paranormal Activity and its sequel, we see young Katie and Kristi growing up in their suburban home with their mother and her boyfriend.  Kristi befriends an invisible friend, Toby, an entity that will terrify them for many years to come.  As the tension builds, the secrets behind this demonic presence is revealed.

Going into Paranormal Activity 3, I was remaining cautiously optimistic about the film.  I had seen the first teaser trailer for it and it didn’t really do much to make me all that excited for it.  Perhaps it was their decision to not show so much in the teaser, let alone show things that are not actually in the movie (the two sisters in front of the mirror playing Bloody Mary never happens in the film, though there is a Bloody Mary sequence in it).  I avoided all other trailers and tv spots as I didn’t want anything ruined for me.  When we got to the theater for the midnight showings, we tried to avoid the bigger (more annoying crowd) by going to the 12:15 am showing but it was pretty evident our theater had sold out as there were people sitting on the stairs.  The previews came and went and the movie started right up.

The film starts in the timeline from Paranormal Activity 2 when Kristi’s house has been ransacked and the family, along with Katie, are looking through the house seeing if anything is stolen.  Nothing seems missing except a box of VHS tapes from Katie and Kristi’s childhood that had been found prior.  It’s uncertain who took the tapes, the demon?  Someone else?  That tidbit remains a mystery but, regardless, the movie starts off the meat of the story with the footage from the VHS tapes showing Katie and Kristi’s childhood.  We see them living with their mom and her newish boyfriend.  Everything seems to be fine at first but, of course, things start happening and the terror begins.

I don’t want to go into much of the developments in the film or what exactly happens as I’d rather save that for you to discover on your own but I can say that the filmmakers behind this third entry definitely seem to have an affection for the movie Poltergeist.  There are numerous references to that film and even a few scenes that seem like variants of some of the scenes from Tobe Hooper’s/Steven Spielberg’s classic film.  Paranormal Activity 3 really ups the chills and thrills from the previous two.  It actually is the most consistent in build-up out of the three films and once things start happening, the occurences keep increasing until it builds to the finale of the film which is pretty frickin’ tense.  I think this is easily the scariest out of the franchise.  Even dealing with the distractions of people inanely talking and texting in the theater, the film was really effective and I found myself getting chills up my spine and the release of adrenaline you get while walking through a really good haunted house.  Every turn around a corner can mean something is there waiting to pop out and there were some pretty good jump scares to be had in the film.  But its the atmosphere and tension building that really makes this film (as well as the other two) so fun to watch.

I’m extremely satisfied with this prequel and feel like it could overtake the original film as my favorite of the series.  It does go into some explanation of where the demon that terrorizes Katie and Kristi comes from and why these things happen to them.  I won’t say what it is but it wasn’t something I expected but thought it was pretty cool.  It also leaves me with a lot of questions as well which makes me hope that they can sustain the momentum they’ve been building for a fourth entry that expands the mythology even further.  I don’t know how long they can go on with this storyline but I’m damn glad to have Paranormal Activity as the annual Halloween franchise at the movies.  For so long us horror fans have had to suffer with the Saw series being an October tradition, but now we have a series that is truly terrifying as well as interesting.  If you want a good scare this Halloween season, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to go see this film.

4.5 out 5 stars

*Side note:  If you really want the ultimate setting for watching the previous two entries (and eventually this third one as well), I’ll spell it out for you.  Find a time when you are alone in your home, put the blu-ray/dvd in, turn off the lights, sit down and press play.

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