* Prices may differ from that shown
Having seen the other two Paranormal Activity films and being totally freaked out by them, when I saw the latest instalment was available on Sky Premier I settled down to watch it, but the heart was racing from the moment I turned it on! I never used to be scared by 'scary films' but these last few years I have turned into a right wuss! I was really scared by this film and recommended it to my 16 year old sister, who later informed me that it wasn't scary in the slightest and I need to get a grip!
The film opens with a pregnant Kristi who is eagerly awaiting her new arrival. Her sister calls in to see the new arrival and straight away you see her sister is the main character from the first film, Katie. I had heard that this 3rd film centred on children and I wrongly thought it would be focused on the new-born when he arrived. But I was wrong, only the first few minutes are set in the present day. Katie brings some boxes to store with Kristi in her basement and in one of the boxes are several VHS tapes that were filmed when they were young girls, and this third film is basically the content of these VHS tapes which go missing in a suspected break in.
The first 10 or 15 minutes slowly ease you in. Nothing too scary, just a few weird scenes. Following the tape of Katie's birthday, we see that we are in the late 1980's from the corner of the video. The tapes follow Katie, Kristi, Julie (their mum) and her partner Dennis who has been dating Julie for a relatively short period of time. They have moved into a new house and straight away things start going wrong. Kristi gains an invisible friend who doesn't like her to tell grownups about what they talk about and Kristi won't talk because she wants to stay safe. 'He' lives in the cupboard in the corner of their bedroom, and much of the 'goings on' seem to focus initially on this cupboard but soon move to other areas of the house. Dennis is a videographer and soon decides he wants to set up cameras throughout the house as he has a feeling that something is going on. One particular camera that he sets up drove me absolutely mad as the anticipation constantly scared me! He decided to set up a camera in the open plan living, kitchen area on a revolving stand (I think on some kind of fan base), but during the night when the camera shows the living room, it isn't going to be for nothing, so when it pans round to one end I would shout 'this is it, this time there's going to be something there', and then there isn't, this goes on 2 or 3 times, and when something does happen I'd scared myself anyway just from the anticipation!
There are several scenes that are pretty bad (or were to me anyway!) but they seem to get worse as the film goes along. The first 45 minutes or so, see's doors unexplainably shut, shadows run past in the hall, TV's turn on etc, but in the second half, they definitely turn up the notch. There is one particular scene where the eldest girl Katie convinces a friend of Dennis's to lock themselves in the bathroom and chant the hail Marys 3 times which doesn't go down too well! A scene with the babysitter playing ghosts with a sheet over her head (and involving the revolving camera!) was interesting! The ending is also pretty bad (in my opinion) and really freaked me out.
All in all this was a pretty good film. The acting was good, particularly by the two girls who are both fairly young. The effects were subtle but very good and the storyline was fairly believable, as far as demons, etc go! Over the last few years, as I said, I have turned into a massive wuss so if you thought this film wasn't scary in the slightest I apologise! For me, horrors are always heightened when they involve children and things that can't be seen.
A good solid 4 stars.
I'll be honest, I don't know why I bothered watching this. I didn't like the first two and had little hopes for the third installment but I thought that maybe, just maybe, this would be better. I have insomnia, but even this could have helped me to sleep.
Paranormal Activity 3 was directed by (not the directors of previous Paranormal Activity films, though I believe they're now working on a 4th instalment). It helps, or at least should, if you've seen the previous flicks to get an idea of the premise. This one takes us to 1988, with a happy family consisting of a mum (Julie, played by Lauren Bittner), dad (Dennis, played by Christopher Nicholas Smith) and two young girls (Katie and Kristi). This is a prequel really to the latter films that see the two girls as women, so we now discover that the 'paranormal activity' surrounding their adult years started far earlier.
So, as the usual scenario goes, there's a video camera. Enter the dad, a wedding photographer with his own little studio at home. He sets up a camera and for the majority of the film therefore we see events unfold through this lens. He wants to document daily activities but ends up recording more than he bargained for.
The quiet life of this happy family is disturbed when some eerie goings on start to occur. Cue things moving of their own will, doors shutting, lights flicking etc. The usual ghostly drama. Unsure whether to believe there's really anything unusual going on, the couple continue as normal until they no longer can. The girls are the recipients of the ghostly mystery, with some sort of entity plaguing and taunting them in particular.
I won't say any more on the premise but it's very straight forward. Two girls being haunted, and the whole family is involved in the ghostly shenanigans. Why? Well, this is partly unveiled towards the end even though it didn't make much sense to me. Since the 2007 original, small bits of the puzzle have been gradually put in to place, but again, I don't think it's very obvious or makes a great deal of sense partly because of the way it's done. It's not particularly clear who's who and why things are happening, which is a little frustrating.
On to the acting. Mediocre is probably how I'd describe it; the parents are okay in their roles but not really engaging enough or developed with enough depth to make them shine out. The girls are very young but there aren't any award winning performances. For their age, they are okay, but I still didn't find them particularly easy or realistic to watch for the most part.
You could argue that this film is more about the atmospheric tension built up rather than the acting, even though I think this does account for a fair bit of the atmosphere. The shaky camera shots, static scenes, slow pan angles are done fairly well without being too irritating (unlike the Blair Witch project was at times). However, I didn't find the camera work, lighting or events to build enough tension to make this full of suspense or frights. I actually just found it very boring and lack lustre.
This flick doesn't add anything new to the genre but I wasn't expecting it to. I was hoping for a little more engagement, but instead I found it to be boring, not jumpy or high tension in the least and I'm still wondering why they're bothering to make a 4th.
DVD released 2012, rated Certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £10.99
I have to admit, I strongly dislike the Paranormal Activity series. I don't find them scary at all and I don't like that everything looks like it's been filmed on a family camcorder. I would probably have to say that this is the best out of all three Paranormal Activity movies, because at least this one gave me a couple of jumps, whereas I fell completely asleep in the other films. I don't know if I missed something, but I don't seem to recall 'Bloody Mary' appearing in this film as she did in the trailer. I found this thoroughly disappointing as that was really the only reason I watched this film. The Paranormal Activity movies also greatly confuse me because they are all linked to each other and yet the events that take place don't really seem to follow on from one another and I got the impression that the characters had forgotten the past horrors, which makes absolutely no sense to me.
The third movie takes us back to 1988 again as a sort of prequel to the prequel and we see Kristi and Katie as little girls. Kristi mysteriously starts interacting with somebody that noone else can see, who she calls 'Toby'. After Toby's appearance, many strange things start happening in the house, so Kristi's mother's boyfriend, Dennis, sets up several cameras all around the house in order to see if anything weird is going on. Everyday, Dennis collects the tapes that have been recording all night and watches the back. At first he cannot see anything, but then strange things start happening, mysterious moving objects, empty spaces that dust won't fall on, floating sheets and slamming doors. Dennis tries to convince Julie, Kristi and Katie's mother, that there's something weird going on in the house, but she refuses to believe him and this could have consequences for her and her family.
The style of acting in these movies is obviously quite different to any other movie. In addition to the fact that you're being recorded on a home camcorder, the characters are usually seen doing normal everyday things, so there's never really any need to display much acting talent as it's all pretty realistic. I did believe that all the scenes were real and had I not known that this was a film, I probably could've believed that they were real home made tapes. I suppose this means that they all were very good at acting, though it would be interesting to see how these actors fare in normal films where they would be forced to adhere to a script that is probably something they have never actually experienced in real life.
These movies always get better as time goes on. The beginnings are usually very, very slow, in fact, I'm pretty sure nothing interesting happened until the last 15 minutes of the second movie, and this one was much the same. However, by the middle of the movie, much had happened, or at least, enough to tickle your curiosity buds and make you pay attention. I felt like there was much more a story line to this one than the previous movies and it wasn't just everyday life with a bit of a twist there was actually a character, 'Toby', involved in the horror. The ending of this movie is definitely the most frightening bit and I think it was done very well in terms of filming; however, I was slightly frustrated at the end as I wasn't entirely sure what had just happened, but that was probably my own fault. This movie actually has a build up and reaches a climax, unlike its predecessor and I'd say this is probably a case of 'third time lucky' for the producers.
Whilst this film was the scariest out of the three for me, it still no way near as scary as your typical 'horror' movies. If you're a fan of the Paranormal Activity movies, then I'd recommend you watch this as it is miles better than the second movie. If you're a horror movie fanatic, but have never watched any of these movies, then personally, I wouldn't recommend that you do when there are plenty of other horror movies out there; however, that's just me. If you're the sort of person who is easily frightened by the mysterious slamming of a door or 'real' horror, then I suppose this is the sort of movie for you.
OUT ON DVD NOW.
Paranormal Activity 3
Blu Ray/DVD release date: 27/02/12
Running Time: 93 minutes
The Paranormal Activity franchise seems to divide people into either love 'em or hate 'em camps with some people describing the films as being terrifying and something different in the horror genre whereas others dismiss them as being boring and a tedious waste of time with clichéd and cheap scares. I enjoyed the first film and loved the second even more than its predecessor, the "real-life" presentation of found or retrieved VHS footage capturing so-called paranormal activity on tape really appealed to me and I liked how the films were put together and produced. I had mixed thoughts when another sequel was announced although it was inevitable that it would be made given the popularity and appeal of the first two films but did wonder if it would end up just being a pointless cash-in on the success of the first one, something that the first sequel had managed to avoid with its cleverly thought out parallel-running storyline tying into the events of the first film.
Having just been released yesterday on DVD and BluRay I was lucky enough to get the film sent through the post from Lovefilm and eager to see how the franchise could move on from the first two films I readied myself for another encounter with some more Paranormal Activity.
Things that go "Bump" for the third time...
Anyone familiar with the Paranormal Activity franchise will know that these films don't follow the usual path of scripted and filmed storylines, instead they are presented as real life "found footage" and offer no opening credits or background score. It's not essential to have seen the first 2 films in the series before watching this although it helps to have seen them as this film attempts to explain the backgrounds of Kristi and Katie who feature in the original and follow up films. Presented as found tapes from 1988 and introducing us to the two young girls, their mother and her boyfriend, Dennis, Paranormal Activity 3 is essentially a prequel to the first film and depicts the activity that goes off in the new family home and attempts to offer some reasons as to why they are the focus of unwanted, paranormal attention.
We soon learn that Kristi (the youngest daughter) has a friend called Toby but because he is never physically seen he is quickly dismissed as being the product of the young girls overactive imagination and it's only when Dennis inadvertently captures something inexplicable on his camcorder that he senses that something is not quite right. He sets up a couple of cameras to see if he can capture anything on film that might offer some explanation to the strange events that seem to be happening and it's when he starts to review the footage on the tapes that he soon comes to realise that all is not as it seems with his girlfriends youngest daughter. We follow the footage as it reveals what happened back in 1988 and answers some of the questions that were raised during the first two films and whilst I didn't think the film was quite as strong as the other two this time round it still proved itself to be a worthy addition to the franchise.
More of the Same?
As mentioned in my introduction to this review the Paranormal Activity films seem to divide opinion and if you're not a fan of them then there's little point in you watching this one as it is more of the same and doesn't really deviate from the well trodden path used in the first two films. It's a winning formula though in my opinion and it's definitely being exploited to the max by the film makers who know that these films do appeal to a certain audience and whilst PA 3 isn't the best of the bunch I still found it to be an enjoyable watch that provided a good few jumps and scares. Unlike the first film that relied on a single camera capturing the activity this time, the same as with the second film, there are multiple cameras used and you do get a better idea of what is actually going on, the editing of the film switches quickly from one camera to another and you're able to witness the activity as it takes place onscreen which allows you to become fully immersed in the atmospheric feel of the film.
Many people criticise the pacing of these films and to some extent I agree that they can be tedious, there are times in PA 3 where nothing seems to be happening and without an audible soundtrack to help build the tension it can feel a little on the 'cold' side, this for me is the appeal of this type of film though and I enjoy the quiet moments where nothing appears to be happening as the 'activity' can be quite subtle and you do need to be attentive to see it for yourself. I think it's a rather clever device used by the film makers to force you to keep watching a seemingly quiet scene simply because the tension can soon become palpable and whilst there are a few cheap scares that are included in Paranormal Activity 3 simply to make you jump as the film progresses these are soon replaced by more sinister scenes that I found to be genuinely unsettling. Loud bangs that seem to come from nowhere can be annoying when they are overused and overdone but it's a tricky balance to get right in these films as something has to happen to keep the momentum going and I do have to give credit to the writers for including just the right amount of cheap jumps to keep the film moving forward and these help build up the tension and intensity of the final quarter of the film where the pacing picks up speed. As usual this isn't a film that will appeal to anyone who likes the more traditional 'thrill ride', high octane horror films but it is a genre film that replicates the feel and look of the others in the series and overall it is well worth seeing if you like this type of thing. My only real criticism with the film is that it is very similar to the other 2 and whilst this isn't necessarily a bad thing I do think that there are only so many times that the found-footage concept can be used in this way and whilst PA 3 does go someway in offering some background to the characters that appear in the other films I can't help but feel that this one is rather unnecessary really and generally speaking prequels are usually made just to maximise the profits for the film studios which rely on a tried and tested formula that seems to work as opposed to offering something new and different.
That said, if you liked the first 2 Paranormal Activity films then there should be enough here to capture your imagination once again and it is an atmospherically scary film that does have a nasty sting in its twisted tail that offers a satisfactory payoff to your commitment to it. The ending (which I won't discuss here) is in keeping with the other 2 films and anyone expecting more of the same shouldn't be too disappointed with Paranormal Activity 3 overall. I enjoyed the film although I don't think it offers much in terms of replay value as the 'down' moments can be a little on the dull side and I think that it's a film that loses its impact on a second viewing as you'll know when the scares will be, the 'fun' of these for me is in the anticipation and I like not knowing what's going to happen next and I don't think that this one is quite as scary as the second film in my opinion so wouldn't be in a rush to watch it again any time soon.
There are only 4 main characters in the film of which 2 are children and normally I'm not that keen on kids being in horror films as I find their performances to be too stilted to be believable but both of the girls here are outstanding and special mention should be given to the young girl playing Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown). She is excellent in her portrayal and I fully bought into her character and even though there is little time spent developing them or seeing them in anything other than perilous situations Id did think she excelled in her performance. All of the characters were believable though and for how the film is presented you do forget that these are 'actors' playing a part as they do fill their roles with conviction and believability and I do think that for a horror film the parts were very well played.
As mentioned there is no score with these films, there's no background music at all and the film starts and ends with a black screen. It does take a little while to get used to the lack of a musical soundtrack but once the film has established its intentions and you get involved in the story then the lack of any other distractions seem to intensify the viewing experience with the only sounds you hear being the ones captured on film. PA 3 is the same as the other 2 in the series so those familiar with the films will know what to expect and as already stated I wouldn't suggest anyone to watch this film without prior knowledge of what happened in the first two films.
My rental copy of the film is produced the same as the retail one and whilst the other films in the series offered no additional content whatsoever on the disc in the way of extras Paranormal Activity 3 does offer some bonus content.
As well as the Theatrical version of the film the Extended version is included on this release and you have the option to select specific scenes from the onscreen menu. There is a "Lost Tapes" extra which includes footage not included in the film and is essentially the character of Dennis messing around with his video camcorder scaring his girlfriend by hiding behind doors and in closets. It's not essential viewing but is quite fun and provides a little light relief after watching the film, it only runs a few minutes but at least it's there should you want to see it. Subtitles are are a selectable option as are various settings for the audio output.
The quality of the film transfer is fine if not a little unbelievable given the fact that this is supposed to be VHS footage shot in the late 80's. It's perhaps a little too 'clean' and precise to be old and lacks any graininess that you might expect for film that is supposed to be over 30 years old but as the film progressed I didn't really pay that much attention to this aspect and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the film overall although I suspect that some people may not be as forgiving as me and would probably criticise the lack of authenticity.
Unlike Paranormal Activity 2 which was a five star film for me PA 3 is not quite as good but enjoyable all the same. It had enough jumps and scares to keep me entertained although I did think that the middle section of the film dragged a little and my interest did begin to waiver slightly, a strong ending and some effective moments made up for a lagging mid-section and I think that 4 stars is fair taking everything mentioned in this review into consideration. I do think it's a 'renter' rather than being one to buy as I can't see much point in watching the film over and over but however you get hold of it I do think it's worth seeing for anyone who is a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
Thanks for reading my review.