Paranormal Activity 3

Directed By: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost

Starring: Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Kate Featherston and Sprague Grayden

By the time you get around to the third installment in a horror franchise, the filmmakers have probably used all their tricks.  Viewers could predict every move by Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers in the third flicks of their respective film series.  How many ways can a serial killer use a machete or a bladed glove?  Even Jigsaw lost some originality by Saw III.  At this point in a series, it's really tough to be fresh and frightening.  When I heard about Paranormal Activity 3, I started wondering about how many ways a ghost could kick the crap out of a family.

In Paranormal Activity 3, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost do the exact same thing Tod Williams did in Paranormal Activity 2 by making the film a prequel.  While this pays dividends to some extent, there's only so much that they can do to make a third installment stand out within a horror franchise.  Though enjoyable, Paranormal Activity 3 falls to the same fate as many third installments have.

In 2005, Katie (Katie Featherston) drops off a box of old VHS tapes at her sister Kristi's (Sprague Grayden) home.  The tapes go missing after a break-in.  In 1988, the young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) are living with their mom Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith).  Julie and Dennis are in the process of making a sex tape, but things go awry when an earthquake strikes.  In the aftermath, the camera was still running in their bedroom.  The footage reveals the existence of a supernatural presence in their home; it shows dust landing on an invisible figure.  A cameraman by profession, Dennis tries to record the activities of this ghostly presence.  He fails to realize the dangerous nature of this supernatural domestic disturbance.

Paranormal Activity 3 is a decent horror flick, but I have a couple of problems with it.  Even in a series as authentic as this one, you can find that one annoying idiot who you can't wait to watch die on screen.  For me, that person is Lauren Bittner's Julie.  For a mom in this frightening family, I would expect someone just a little smarter.  At times, she's a damn fool.  If a ghost is rocking, you don't go knocking.  When crazy stuff starts happening, she should take that as her exit cue, but she obviously does not do that for the sake of the story.  Like the idiocy in any horror flick, it drives me nuts.

Beyond the standard fool of any horror movie, my biggest problem with Paranormal Activity 3 is originality.  This is a film where there are a lot of silent moments.  It's a flick where genuine frights are key and creativity is paramount.  While Schulman and Joost don't go wrong in terms of filmmaking, they don't push any boundaries either.  The film feels too formulaic.  It's like a Final Destination film.  Instead of waiting on death to make it's move by causing some fatal accident, I'm waiting on a lamp to randomly move. While these anomalies can be scary for a little while, they have their limits.  You may need some alcohol to fill that void.  It gets old quickly this time around.

Paranormal Activity 3 is not the worst horror movie I've ever seen, but it's certainly not the best one.  It gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.