“Paranormal Activity 3” will scare the pants off of you

The third film of a horror movie franchise like “Final Destination 3” and “The Exorcist III” usually runs out of steam and ideas that could mark the end of a franchise. “Paranormal Activity 3” manages to do quite the opposite as it further explores the origins of the demonic entity of this franchise and come up with more scare that will cause your pulse to race a mile a minute.

As a prequel to the previous films, this movie is set in 1988 where sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) first encounter the demon, which Kristi thinks is an invisible friend named Toby. Strange things start happening around the house which causes the girls’ stepfather and videographer Dennis (Christopher Nicolas Smith) to set cameras around the house despite the objection of his wife Julie (Lauren Bitner). Bizarre and strange occurrences begin to manifest within the house that are more than just things going bump in the night.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (“Catfish”), they establish a tense mood in the movie and manage to maintain that mood throughout this film. The scary stuff is not just limited to the nighttime this time around as the some of the scary moments in “Paranormal Activity 3” occur in broad daylight.

The editing plays an essential role in this film in order to help orchestrate set up the upcoming scary moments. Jump cuts are greatly used throughout the film whether it is a stationary camera shot of a bedroom at night or the panning shots of a camera atop an oscillating fan that build an incredible amount of tension. 

The best part about this movie is the anticipation of the scare and scanning the scene to see what is out of the norm within the frame. When the scares do occur, they are not just cheap “gotcha” moments (including an awesome scare that occurs early in the movie), but truly real and intense scares.

Screenwriter Christopher B. Landon expands the mythology of the franchise by exploring the history and possible origins of the demon that has been haunting Katie and Kristi. The story in this movie is careful in not unveiling everything, which leaves room for next year’s possible fourth movie. As a prequel, there are direct connections to the first two films that include cameos from Katie Featherstone and Sprague Grayden, who played the older Katie and Kristi in the previous films. However, moviegoers unfamiliar with the “Paranormal Activity” movies can still enjoy this film as a stand-alone scary movie.

Sometimes, the acting is not the most important and essential thing in “found footage” films like this one. Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown, the child actors of “Paranormal Activity 3” are truly fantastic as the much younger versions of Katie and Kristi. The haunting start off innocent with sounds of footsteps and light flicking on and off. As the movie progresses, the entity eventually becomes violent, especially inflicting pain on some of the adults and torturing the little girls using its supernatural powers.

“Paranormal Activity 3” relies on the formula that has made the previous “Paranormal Activity” successful and it does lack the originality that the first film so frightening.

Among the horror remakes and sequels to come out this year like “The Thing”, “Paranormal Activity 3” shine above it all as not only the best installment of the series, but one of the best horror films to come out this year. Thanks to the filmmakers, they manage to keep this relatively new horror franchise as fresh of breath air in the horror genre.

“Paranormal Activity 3”: 4.5 stars out of 5

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