In 1988 sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) seem to be enjoying a normal, happy childhood at home. But when strange things start going bump in the night, their father, a wedding videographer, decides to use his cameras to discover the source, especially since Kristi appears to be having conversations with an imaginary friend. While the cameras do indeed reveal a flurry of supernatural occurrences, the family is unprepared for the terror that awaits.
There is an element surrounding the Paranormal Activity franchise that is genuinely scary. Since these films put ghosts and various different evil spirits front and center, you would understandably think that that is what makes these movies so scary. But no. The scariest thing about the Paranormal Activity franchise is that they all made so much money at the box office.
To be fair though, I think I understand why they made so much money. It’s that unknown element. Word of mouth travels extremely fast and all it takes is a couple of people to tell their friends “You have to check out this new movie called Paranormal Activity, it’s so scary!” in order for that friend to go see it. Our curiosity tells us that we should in turn see this film that everybody seems to be talking about.
The same thing happened with The Blair Witch Project back in 1999, and it’s probably the most notable case of this. So many viewers left that theatre thinking that what they just saw was real footage of a group of young friends venturing out to a creepy forest to film a documentary, only for them to go missing. Although it was an indie movie that was shot for a couple hundred thousand dollars, the film managed to rake in a whopping two-hundred and forty-eight million at the box office.
But, to be honest, I don’t understand why so many people find the Paranormal Activity movies scary. This third entry had so much potential to not only branch out in a fun and creative way but to finally make us care about our lead characters, but the film never takes that chance. It still sticks to the same tried-and-true formula of placing annoying jump scares every once in a while in the hopes to jolt audiences awake because surely, they must fall asleep during a movie like this.
The characters here, are yet again, extremely boring and unlikable. The only reason we are given as to why we should care about these people is simple: they are people too, and thus, we should care about them. But I don’t. In order to feel an emotional attachment to a character, strong writing needs to be present, which this movie doesn’t have.
Although it does have some more entertainment value than the first, Paranormal Activity 3 is the worst one I have seen so far. It’s only eighty-four minutes which is a relief, but it never felt that short. It felt significantly longer, mainly because it takes well over thirty minutes for anything remotely “creepy” to even occur. By the time the film’s end credits appear, you’ll probably want to get a refund.
Paranormal Activity 3 had the potential to tell an interesting and creepy origin story for the franchise but instead ends up being yet another woefully boring and generic disaster.
Overall Grade: D
MPAA Rating: R for some violence, language, brief sexuality, and drug use
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 21, 2011
Running Time: 84 minutes