Paranormal Activity 3
Surprisingly effective third instalment of found footage suburban ghost story
Now Saw has relinquished its stranglehold on the multiplex each and every Halloween, Paranormal Activity has stepped up to fill the void. And it’s impressive that they’ve managed to mine this much back-story from the simplicity of the original. While the ‘found footage’ format is rapidly becoming one of horror cinema’s most tired clichés, the film that reignited the phenomenon is still one of the very best examples of this subgenre even with its third instalment.
Paranormal Activity 3 is yet another prequel taking Katie (Katie Featherston) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden) back to their childhood in 1988. After spotting something weird in the corner of the screen while reviewing a failed sex tape their stepfather, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), starts a surveillance operation on the house. You know what you are in for as soon as the familiar ‘Night # 1’ flashes up on screen: doors creak, shadows stir, objects move and strange noises rumble through the night. As with the previous films the supernatural occurrences build in intensity centring on Katie (Chloe Csengery) and in particular Kirsti (Jessica Tyler Brown) and her imaginary ‘friend’ Toby.
Taking up the directors reigns Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman display the same knack for capturing the unusual as they displayed in Catfish and bring the realism of their documentary background to PA3. Admittedly you do have to buy into the whole set up, as with both the previous films there’s a lot of not very much happening, however it’s the build, the anticipation, the tension where Paranormal Activity is most effective. It sometimes shows too much and there are a few too many fake outs but when it gets you, it gets you good.
There is of course the question of yet another generation of the same family taping themselves relentlessly (would you really film yourself watching back last night’s footage?) it’s all a little too convenient so events can fit into Paranormal Activity’s rigid formula. However even the third time around it’s surprisingly effective, it’s impossible to deny that when it works it’s incredibly creepy, but it is essentially the same trick we’ve seen twice before.
With thanks to Cineworld: Fountainpark, Edinburgh.