Thursday, 20 October 2011

Paranormal Activity 3: Movie Review

Paranormal Activity 3: Movie Review

Paranormal Activity 3
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Lauren Bittner, Chloe Csengery, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Jessica Tyler Brown

Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Horror franchises - let's be honest, they start to run out of steam after maybe the second outing, right?
Not in the case of Paranormal Activity.
Following on from the sleeper success of the first film which saw Katie Featherston's Katie being terrified by a "ghost" in her home, a second was rolled out within a year; and now the same's happened with the latest as the studios aim for an annual Hallowe'en release. But it's good news for fans of this particular genre, because the latest outing is a deeply unsettling and unnerving experience.
Essentially, it's a prequel to the first film and delves back into 1988 when Katie and Kristi were young girls living with their parents Dennis and Julie in California. Once again, there's an entity spooking the house and so Dennis, an amateur wedding video creator, decides to set up cameras around the house to try and find out what's going on. Coupled with the fact Kristi's got an imaginary friend Toby, there's plenty to keep him occupied.
But over the course of some 14 nights, the presence really makes itself felt and things escalate into a terrifying conclusion...
I'm loathe to give away too much of this film for the simple reason that a lot of the fun/ heart in mouth moments in the Paranormal Activity films tend to come from not knowing what's ahead - sure, there's a few predictable shocks and jolts, as well as a couple of fake outs, but it doesn't stop what unfolds on the screen in the dark of the cinema from being quite horrifying.
I think half of the horror of this film is due to the fact it involves young children. The young Katie and Kristi are well played by their kiddie charges and you really feel their terror as the entity exerts its might. Lauren Bittner and Christopher Nicholas Smith play the parents well and there's a primal fear being played to here that they can't appear to protect their own in their home which really does grip you.
In the days pre-cutting edge technology, the 1988 setting gives an occasional feeling of retro as video cameras are mounted on desk fans to ensure all sides of the rooms are covered - it's a clever touch which forces you to quickly look at what's on the screen and identify any fleeting images as it pans left and right. It's a smart move and adds to the tension - particuarly during key scenes in the kitchen areas.

Ultimately, some may argue this latest is very similar to what's gone before and there's a chance the ending may polarise some like The Blair Witch Project denouement did; but Paranormal Activity 3 is a thrilling, horrifying, unsettling, heart in mouth rollercoaster ride, which is packed full of genuinely unnerving scares.

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