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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Paranormal Activity 3

    You know what sucks about “Paranormal Activity 3?” Everything.

    As a fan of the first two movies, “Paranormal Activity 3” disappoints on nearly every possible level. Two unique traits within the horror series that formerly made it special have absolutely disappeared in this go-around: a constantly-building sense of tension that increased as the films rolled on and a half-decent storyline involving demons and a family curse.
    The best thing about the “Paranormal Activity” series reveals itself in the best possible way when the writers aren’t lazy.
    Here, they are.

    The story now regresses in a huge way, leaning back on familiar horror movie tropes. The writers refuse to build on the strong storyline foundations of the first two films, instead opting to tear them down and throw in some generic bullshit that I won’t spoil for you, but should. “Paranormal Activity 3,” by going back to where it supposedly all started, had some wonderful opportunities to explore unanswered questions from the first two films. Instead, viewers are left with no answers and half-dozen more ridiculous questions. If you’re looking for any sort of resolution from the past two films, I wish you good luck in figuring out this clusterfuck of an ending.

    The aforementioned creeping sense of fear also kicks the paranormal bucket in this entry. Instead of building up to the most intense moments, “Paranormal Activity 3” relies on cheap jump scares more than ever. The personal aspect of the family’s struggle with the unknown also goes missing; the new actors aren’t nearly as strong as those in the past, which unfortunately cheapens the threatening moments that happen. We should care about these actors, but we don’t. The actors aren’t all bad, however; newcomers Chloe Csengery and Dustin Ingram both blow out their roles as Katie and Randy Rosen and together have the only truly compelling scene in this otherwise boring film.

    Horror films around Halloween are about as common as M&Ms at a candy shop. That said, there have got to be better ways to get your scares than this over-commercialized mess of a movie. “Paranormal Activity 3” makes the best possible argument that it’s just time for this series to go away and die.

    – Joe Dusbabek
    GRADE: D

    The thing about being a kid in a candy store goes beyond the excitement that the idiom often presents; there’s that sensory overload, “how could I ever taste everything?” aspect of anxiety perpetually hovering like a dark angel over the shoulder of your enjoyment.

    So it is with the “Paranormal Activity” triptych — the abundance of both styles and tokens of terror among the cutesy and quotidian makes for a text so richly nuanced it hurts your head. Come to think of it, the handheld camera doesn’t much help that migraine either.

    “Paranormal Activity 3,” the third in a series of increasingly multifarious and less believable horror films a la “The Blair Witch Project,” is as much an iteration of the previous two as it is a plot-sparking prequel. The storyline(s) — a lumpy confluence of a ghetto-rigged home surveillance project, children’s susceptibility to spirits, and modern family dynamics — do not drive so much as loop.

    Taking as its scenic overlay familial clutter within the frame of the house, “3” makes time to delve into contextually twisted scenes of loose tooth-wiggling, piñata battery, and sibling rivalry. But even with far more of these tidbits to chew on, “3” is still composed primarily of nothing. The ticking camcorder clock in the corner and the weighty suburban dead space (no pun intended) are the true stars of this show.

    This emphasis on the thin line between spiritual occupation and emptiness is only magnified by excessive remediation. Between the home videos that seem to comprise the heart of the film, the filming that appears to go on within that past, and the production and packaging of “3” itself, I’d be remiss not to confess to “Inception”-like confusion. It also wouldn’t feel right to part without asking what the eff is so scary about VHS tapes. It’s hard to argue with standards of fear set by “The Ring” … but seriously.

    All of this is to say that whether or not you feel adequately thrilled, satisfied plot-wise, or sufficiently surprised, there is plenty to look at. “I Spy” books, even, come to mind. Buying your ticket to this 1988 clutter-scape may condemn you to a “Saw”-like sameness of experience, but will earn you prompt admission to a Rorschach test of your anxieties.

    – Christy Delehanty
    GRADE: B

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