Back in July, I wrote an article about what the latest instalment in the Paranormal Activity franchise shouldn’t do. 3 months on, I’m pleased to find that PA 3 is a mild improvement on the shit storm that was Paranormal Activity 2 – 0 Scares (see what I did there? Like a football sco- oh never mind), but is still mostly shit.
PA 3 takes us back to 1988 to show us how all that spooky activity began, so other than a few strenuous shots at the beginning linking it to the other two films, the movie spends no time reminding the audience what happened the first and second time round. Also this time, two directors experienced in the low budget indie flick are behind the camera (Joost & Schulman, guys behind Catfish). We follow the middle class adventures of the Rey family through the recordings of Daniel Rey, a wedding video filmmaker who can somehow afford a f*cking mansion. Who knew the wedding video industry secreted such spoils? Anyway, after he and his wife try filming a sex tape, Daniel catches on camera what he thinks to be some invisible figure in their bedroom so decides to set up a bunch of cameras around the house. His young daughter Kristi has an imaginary friend called ‘Toby’ – yes, ‘Toby’ – who plays himself in a stellar performance as an evil rapey demon who likes to fuck around with kitchen furniture, just for kicks. Like other demons, his other hobbies include scratching, groping and pulling hair. The film’s ending, which I’ll implicitly spoil because that is how I roll, seems to be a near exact replica of last year’s ‘The Last Exorcism’, and kinda destroys the central idea of the film that the footage was ‘leaked’ or whatever.
As most horror fans will know, one of the scariest techniques of the genre is obstructing the audience’s field of view, forcing us to imagine what might be creeping around just off screen. While the first one used this idea brilliantly (just ONE camera), and the second fucked it all up (SIX cameras), the 3rd seems to find a middle ground between the two. Yes, there are THREE cameras plus a handheld one recording constantly, but this time…
You read correctly. It’s crazily simple: placed between the living room and kitchen, if there’s anything we don’t see it’s now a matter of necessity and not choice, only one area can be filmed at a time leading to the horrible tension when you see something paranormal and the camera starts moving back to the potential victim…
Obviously the characters aren’t amazingly realistic, and most are easily replaceable, but the kids still turn in great performances for their age (and considering the nature of the film). The film still follows some of it’s predecessors attributes, most noticably the annoying first 20 minutes of hanging out with some irritating Americans and the tedious false-shock moments, and a few scares fall flat of the expected standard.
Summary: 60% shit, 40% brilliant. Still no Poltergeist.
And anyway, the activity, man… it’s like paranormal. Seriously.