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Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 3

In an attempt to keep you awake for the rest of your life, Paranormal Activity 3 takes audiences back in time to the origin of the demonic presence that continues to plague one unlucky family.

Whether you’ve seen the first two episodes in this mega-hit horror series, Paranormal Activity 3 delivers on all levels of super fright. Edgy, spine-chilling, funny and totally paranoid, the film makes good on its promise to answer questions about the mysterious origins of the series’ hauntings.

Maybe we can catch this thing on tape…?

The plot centers on two sisters who are plagued by a demonic presence. When their father sets up a video camera to try to capture the entity on tape, the strange happenings only get worse until — it seems — anyone who walks in front of the camera is dealt the same horrible fate.

EXCLUSIVE: Paranormal Activity 3 room has hidden clues >>

This film is the third installment in the low budget horror series that has reinvented Hollywood’s love of the genre. Born out of writer/director Oren Peli’s curiosity about what really happens when we go to sleep at night, the first film was made on a shoestring budget of $15,000. Eventually, it grossed over $190 million at the box office.

Paranormal Activity

Lean, clean and one scary horror machine

Although Paranormal Activity 3 was filmed for much more (the budget has not been officially released but Paranormal Activity 2 was reported to have cost $3 million to make), Peli stayed true to his do-it-yourself indie style, without compromising aesthetics.

But how many times have we seen someone jumping out of a closet wearing a scary mask? Apparently not enough, because this age old trick had a theater full of hundreds of fans at a special advanced screening in Hollywood leaping out of their seats.

Every time the movie yells, “Boo,” they jump. Peli is definitely doing something right. He sticks to the basics — someone reaching a hand into a disposal… a babysitter at home alone at night with too much time on her hands… a levitating sheet.

Paranormal Activity

Slow camera pan = intense suspense!

Not only are the basics of storytelling there, but the low budget filmmaking adds to the creepy feeling. The video is still “caught on tape” with a household camcorder, but it’s stylized, with less of a found footage feel than the first movie.

Using techniques like lighting the room from a fish tank bulb or mounting the camera on an oscillating fan so it rotates at just the right creep speed, adds just the right amount of tension. You never know what you’re going to see when the camera spins back, so the anticipation is murder. And that’s the point.

If you’re looking for a glossy Hollywood homage to finding the demons within, this might not be your thing. But if you want a simple, clean, honest scare, Paranormal Activity 3 delivers, more than once.

With as breathless of an ending as one could image, questions are answered, but others are posed. Without giving away too much, it’s never far from reach to think that ghosts are always somehow connected to those they haunt. While there’s no exception here, uncovering that information is almost as fun as not knowing too many details at once. If these sisters can’t rid their family of this presence, then perhaps a Paranormal Activity 4 is in order?

Bottom line: If you like jolting from your seat at least once every ten minutes, Paranormal Activity 3 will satisfy your demonic need to be scared completely out of your wits.

Photos courtesy: Paramount Pictures

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