Okay, admit it. You peed your pants when you saw the original Paranormal Activity. Maybe even when you saw the second one. But take my advice; save your money on the third installment of the hit horror series.
This episode in the Paranormal saga prequels the previous two movies, which concern two sisters, Katie and Kristi, being haunted and possessed by an invisible demon. PA3 details the origin of the paranormal occurrences in the girls’ childhood. All seems normal until one night, when the girls’ mom’s boyfriend catches a strange occurrence on video and is inspired to set up cameras all over the house. Kristi’s imaginary friend, “Toby,” is aroused as Dennis, the boyfriend, probes deeper into the strange occurrences. Toby then begins to haunt the family’s home, launching attacks on each member of the family in turn. The movie’s end leaves the audience dissatisfied, with more questions than answers.
Even so, the film did leave some audience members enthralled, including Amanda Ettlin, a senior, who said she was “terrified.” “When I came home, I slept with the lights on,” Ettlin said, “It went beyond my expectations.” Bianca Cabrera, also a senior, echoes her terror: “ We were screaming our butts off.”
Not everyone was so impressed. While “rogerebert.com” gives PA3 one star out of 4, I think that was generous. With no engaging plot to speak of, the movie relies on “gotchya moments” to keep the audience engaged. Even then, these moments turned out to be few and far-between and in each instance, what was about to happen was completely predictable. For example, as in all cheesy horror movies, when the characters hear strange noises, doubtlessly they will investigate and likely end up dead or possessed.
I had held much higher hopes for the film, considering its successful predecessors and especially after seeing the trailers, which portrayed the film as much scarier and more suspenseful.
However, the majority of the clips in the trailer did not make the cut into the movie, and the film suffered for it. Moreover, there was nothing original about the premise, having copied that of the preceding two episodes. To put it plainly, once you’ve seen one of the Paranormal Activities, you may as well have seen them all.