The Third Time is More Than a Charm: A Review of ‘Paranormal Activity 3’

The Third Time is More Than a Charm: A Review of ‘Paranormal Activity 3’

Paranormal Activity is a series that I adore for its ability to get under my skin. As I have stated in several reviews before, I have a predication towards liking these types of films and “found footage” is something that I can easily get absorbed in. I just want you to take that into consideration when reading the review, I don’t want to oversell anything or trick you into seeing a film that you won’t like. Anyways, Paranormal Activity 3 comes at us hot off the tail of Paranormal Activity 2 which was a prequel and a sequel to the first film. PA3 is a complete prequel, not giving the viewer anything else to add to the story that has been created after the events of 2. While the 3rd entry doesn’t divert much for the formula already created in the series, it is still effective, and the mystery behind the girl’s interactions with the demon is enough to keep you still until the credits roll.

Paranormal Activity 3 takes place in the year of 1988, when Katie and Kristi are only kids. Kristi has recently come in contact with an “invisible friend” and takes to staying away from most groups of people. The mother has recently gotten remarried to a man named Dennis, whose job is to record weddings. He starts filming the family like most fathers do, and notices Kristi talking to someone every so often. Julie, the mother, writes it off as something the kids are going through. Dennis begins hearing things at night, and decides to set up cameras in the bedroom and the kid’s bedroom. The danger heightens as Dennis comes closer to finding out who Kristi is talking to and what the “person” wants to do to the family. The film leads up to a brutal and open-ended ending that creates more questions than it answers.

The second film adds a new mechanic to the series by setting up cameras in each room, like a security system, as opposed to the first where it was just Micah using one handheld camera. The third scales back down in its use of mechanics, but it does offer something new and basic. At some point in the film, Dennis sets up a camera in the kitchen on an oscillating fan base. What this means is that the camera moves in place back and forth scanning the kitchen as well as the dining room. This new feature added for some great scenes involving things going on out of the shot, and then when the camera cycled back, we are treated to some sort of scare. Sure, it’s not as extensive as the 2nd films use of cameras but it’s effective and I prefer it to the wide scope attitude of Paranormal Activity 2.

The scares in the film are the same scares you have come to know and love. A good amount of the things you see on screen are just more refined scares that you have already seen (redundancy!). The film gets more aggressive compared to the other films and it makes for a heighten sense of “oh shit”. I am not going to tell you that this film is significantly different from its predecessors, but it takes the time to add something new to the scares already established, and that’s all you can ask for in a film of this genre.

The story thus far has kept me interested and wanting more. The writing has been contiguous with mythology throughout the series, even when it offered up new questions. Not at any point did I feel that the mythos has derailed or somebody forgot to mention something.  Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directors of Catfish, were able to hold everything together with the script Christopher Landon wrote (he did PA2 as well). PA3 does give us a glimpse into the lives of the Katie and Kristi as children, and it plays into what we have heard spoken by them as adults. PA3 does not add a nice little bow on the story, it hardly answers any questions you may have and it makes you ask even more. That’s not to say that it’s poorly written, it just means that they want to milk this cow for awhile and keep us coming back for more. To that I say, YEAH!

Chances are if you loved the other films, you have already seen this but if you’re on the fence, I suggest you go check it out. I actually prefer this film over the others because it has that simplicity like the first but it also has those bombastic attacks that were inherent in the second. Ted Brown, writer for this site, reviewed the film for The Liberal Dead. If you don’t know, Ted hated the series but this one changed his mind, you can read his review here. Sure, the movie is more Paranormal Activity we already know, but it’s still effective and wonderfully entertaining. I am anxious to see 4 and what new ways they will flesh out the story, but until then, I think I’ll leave the lights on.

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Author's Quick Review
Paranormal Activity 3 is more of the same, but that is not such a bad thing.

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My name is Jesse Lee Alan Bartel and I love being a critic on things you don't care about. I love films, horror, writing, and violent video games. Hope to hear from you and happy stabbings. I am also a regular contributor to The Liberal Dead.

5 Responses to “The Third Time is More Than a Charm: A Review of ‘Paranormal Activity 3’”

  1. Definitely better than the second one and even though it’s a little bit of the same thing around again, it still is totally freaky and has so many chilling moments that will stay in your mind forever. Good review.

  2. I love all three in the series. Reading the synopsis of number 3, I thought it would just be a retread, but by focussing on the girls and, as you say, using more cameras (good ol’ VHS!), it keeps things fresh. I’m not sure how much more mileage they can get out of the formula though.


  1. […] installment; in fact, I figured this was going to be the beginning of the end. I was pleasantly surprised though and wound up liking it more than all the other entries. Even Ted Brown of this site, who was […]

  2. […] films, I am beginning to feel a bit exhausted; I have seen Grave Encounters, Atrocious, Paranormal Activity 3, and Undocumented in less than half a year and my enthusiasm for the sub-genre has lessened. […]

  3. […] in this one at the moment because I’m not digging this trailer all too much. I thought PA 3 was the best in the series, so I hope they can still deliver a second time […]

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