Friday, October 21, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #13: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

Thanks to this (now-) series's approach of revisiting ever-earlier times with each new sequel, it's likely that this will be the last PARANORMAL ACTIVITY to feature sisters Katie and Kristy unless the next one is all ultrasound footage.  Thankfully, PA3 is a big improvement over the tepid PA2 and makes a fine goodbye to this demon-haunted family.
Don't expect to see this in the movie
One really cool thing about this film is that it uses approximately none of the scenes featured in the trailer!  I'm not sure if this might mean there are alternate versions of the film a la the multiple endings of the original (and I vote for this idea, please).  Obviously, the plot isn't going to veer wildly away from your expectations. Katie and Kristy are little girls in this entry, caught on VHS camcorders as they get paranormal-activitied for the very first time.  There are some fun subtleties to be enjoyed, like when adult Kristy tells adult Katie, "No one ever gives me anything" in the wraparound or the discussion of BACK TO THE FUTURE once the 80s-dated material begins.  But overall...

BOOM!  and THINGS THAT WERE JUST HERE HAVE NOW MOVED!!  Which is fine with me, since  it's been established that this is what PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is.  Complaining about it is like complaining that a FINAL DESTINATION sequel is nothing but preposterous deaths.  It is what it is.  One thing that is noticeable is how much busier the demon is here in the second prequel.  The exhausted older demon of the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY would only clomp up the stairs or sort of move a door every night, but this young demon (named "Toby" by young Kristy) moves all the furniture and throws shit around like an angry tweaker woman.  Take everything in the original PA and exponent it, like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY³ (except the tank tops), and you will have a good idea of what to expect here.


I really liked the way that directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made use of the whole frame in this one.  Although the movie is still sort of limited by the whole camera gimmick, they manage to get some trucking shots using a house fan and even the stationary shots have a LOT of space, so the viewer has a lot to ghost-spotting ground to cover.  The writing seems a lot more taut compared to the last go-round as well, which is a tough thing to nail in a film like this that doesn't have tons of special effects or an obtrusive STRINGED INSTRUMENTS! score to carry the weaker scenes.  I also thought that the acting was pretty good, ESPECIALLY the child actors (Chloe Csengary and Jessica Tyler Brown).  Child actors always make me uneasy, since they almost never pull off convincing performances, but the two girls here did an excellent job.  

In short, worth your time, even at theater costs.  Fun aside: there were more teenage girls at this than at STEP UP 3D and TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE combined.

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