January 23, 2012

Filthy Review - Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

I’ll admit that I was late getting on the Paranormal Activity bandwagon, so to speak. I was always aware that this little movie, that was made for next to nothing, played festivals and then got picked up by Paramount. I just never got around to watching it until I picked up a copy on DVD long after the hoopla had died down. When I did watch it though, I loved it. Even after this though I had no idea that it would become the horror behemoth that it has. I have still yet to see any of the Paranormal Activity movies on the big screen, but I do have all three in my collection at home.

There was always the fear that with the sequels that Paramount would just throw a bucketload of cash at the franchise and hope that it would stick, as isn’t that always the case? Well, if they did, and I am in no doubt that the budgets have increased with each movie, it doesn’t really show on screen. Sure, there are effects employed that will have no doubt employed some computer tinkering, but the feel of each movie, to me anyway, has remained true to Oren Peli’s first movie.

One thing that is fairly unique to this series is that each new movie has taken place before the previous movie. With the third movie the events go back to when sisters Katie and Kristie are wee young girls living at home with their mom and her boyfriend Dennis. Rather conveniently their prospective stepfather’s job is filming and editing wedding videos, so he has plenty of access to video cameras. This is all back in 1988, so no camera phones or other digital equipment here thank you very much.

Anyway, as you might expect strange things start to happen around the house, in particular with Kristi. Dennis, eager to get to the bottom of it, starts to set up cameras to film anything untoward that might be happening. Do you really need to know anymore?

What Paranormal Activity does manage to do, especially considering that you know the sisters appear in the previous, or latter if you will, movies, is to maintain that heightened level of tension. This escalates as the movie progresses, and delivers more than one “holy shit” moment. Whether the movie really reveals the origins of the activity, as is proclaimed on the accompanying artwork, is really open to contention. I found it still a little open, but what I did find is that there is plenty of scope to take the franchise in several different directions, if the powers that be choose to. And I am sure they will.

Profitability aside, and there is absolutely no doubt that these movies make money, and a lot of it, Part 3 has remained true to the franchise. It has taken the formula that has worked in two previous movies and hasn’t really deviated from it. It still remains fresh, yet at the same time comfortably familiar.

Now, as you have probably noticed, I really did enjoy this movie, it is very good and very effective in achieving what it sets out to do. That is not say that I didn’t find fault with a couple of aspects. First off is that it is set in 1988 and the footage is recorded in 1988. Why then is it shot in widescreen? To the best of my knowledge this wasn’t readily available on video back then. Was it transferred to a more modern medium for the film? If so no mention was made of this.

Secondly, once again on the video aspect, is that if anyone recalls video they will know that the picture quality varied at the best of times. Here though the picture is pristine throughout. I would have liked to have directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost add a little grain to the picture. Now, that sort of thing bugs me when I watch faux-grindhouse flicks, but here I think it would have benefited the overall effect of the movie.

Those are just minor gripes with Paranormal Activity 3 though. The movie itself I thoroughly enjoyed, and the franchise as a result seems to go from strength to strength. If you liked the first two there is no question that you will dig this movie. If you didn’t like the first two I suggest you give this one a shot, it might just win you over.

Paranormal Activity 3 is released on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Download combo pack on January 24th from Paramount.

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