After the generally well-received original Paranormal Activity (2009) and its quick successor, the coma-inducing Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), it’s no surprise to see Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) topping the UK box office. Yet directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have managed to create a cataclysmic abomination of a film, forever tarnishing the reputation of one of the better horror movies of the past decade.
This time around, the boredom of PA2 has been replaced by a series of ludicrous and nonsensical set pieces, ultimately destroying any potential atmosphere or sense of realism. Whilst PA2 was indeed a devastatingly tedious affair, it at least attempted to buck the trend of turning everything up to 11 in order to top the original. Whereas PA1 and PA2 managed to overcome the ‘why are they still filming?’ question pretty flawlessly, PA3 sees just about every action filmed, even to the point where we’re expected to believe that someone would film himself – on his own – watching other video tapes.
PA3 is set in 1988, when Katie and sister Kristi (the stars of the previous two films) are no more than young children. It soon becomes clear that all is not well when Kristi’s ‘imaginary friend’ Toby starts misbehaving, causing the usual array of spooky happenings to commence – lampshades swinging, lights switching on and off etc.
It is these all too familiar happenings that let PA3 down so comprehensively. Derivative of more films than you could care to mention, we see scene after scene of moments that have almost been wholly-lifted from the first two entries in the franchise.
Furthermore – through one of the most over-used tricks in the film – a camcorder is placed upon a rotating fan, offering the directors the opportunity do nothing for much of the piece. With a slow-panning left to right shot across the lounge and kitchen, the audience is forced to endure scene after scene of an empty room, followed by a panning shot of the room, followed again by the former side of the room, yet this time with a ghostly addition to the frame. Although this manages to raise the odd jump here and there, its baffling overuse becomes irksome and predictable far too quickly.
With one of the worst endings you will see this year, PA3 falls apart spectacularly in its final third, whilst also nodding to a potential fourth instalment for next year. Even fans of the franchise should avoid this film – this may be the only way to prevent this purely money-driven series from embarrassing itself any further.