Being a paranormal investigator and fan of good ghost stories, I was interested in this film and waiting for it with lots of excitement. Especially since the two before it were excellent and very accurate to the types of haunting activity that many of us in the field experience. Granted in a “Hollywood” exaggerated creepy way.
But the creepiest thing about the latest installment of Paramount's low-budget blockbuster franchise, "Paranormal Activity," is that people will watch anything remotely scary come Halloween-time. The five-million-dollar Paranormal Activity 3 has already racked up some $80M in worldwide box-office receipts more bang per production buck spent since The Blair Witch Project, the low-tech miracle that started the trend back in 1999, and which earned a staggering quarter-of-a-billion dollars!
The setup is pretty simple the old haunted house routine, replete with mom, dad and their two young daughters, one of who talks to an invisible entity named Toby. Her videographer step-father tapes the family's waking and sleeping hours in an attempt to figure out why the house is making funny noises, and his homemade-looking, tripod-mounted footage comprises the bulk of the film. That's why it costs so little to shoot…
We in the audience know more collectively than the characters on the screen, which can't quite put together exactly what's gone awry in their happy suburban lives. Dad seems to be onto something to do with covens and preparing young virgins for sacrifice and demonic coupling, but too little is revealed to provide any major "aha" moments. Instead we scan the screen like good ghost hunters, waiting for something to pop up!
Admittedly, this is not a bad way to create initial suspense, especially after Dad fixes a camera onto the base of an oscillating electric fan, which pans slowly between the kitchen and living room. Every time it leaves one room and enters the other, one fully expects an entity to be on screen and chanting backwards incantations. NOPE! We are made to wait even longer to be shaken with even a modicum of fear.
When the special effects do kick in they are not in time to rescue this low-budget thriller from the ethereal realm of boredom and inconsequence. As in comedy, timing is everything in a well-made horror film. "Paranormal 3" has its second-hand stuck firmly somewhere between 11 p.m. and midnight. The witching hour never properly arrives in time to truly give a good fright. Especially in the more believable way as its two previous films do.
I do like the found footage feel and naturalistic acting style that directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman employ, but the story and script need a little more spine to engage the brain. Unlike the previous two films I did not feel any truthfulness in the paranormal events. I was never "hooked" or sitting at seat's edge. I was more annoyed at the paucity of action and the rather mild scares that so infrequently jarred me awake from a state of near blissful sleep. This year I say go for the rental of some good scary films! Save your hard earned money! Comcast has some better films On Demand for $2.99 I recommend “Bram Stokers Dracula” or “Night of The Living Dead”.