Year of Release: 2011
Directed by: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Source: Theatrical Screening
Average IMDB Rating: 6.5
Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%
I was a little hesitant watching this movie after my disappointment with the prior film, Paranormal Activity 2. PA2 had the same type of scares and jumps as the first one, just with a bigger cast and better cameras. I thought to myself “what more can you do to scare everyone? Everyone will be expecting the mom to be dragged through the room, doors opening and closing, and strange noises?” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, not so fast. While the average movie goer enjoyed this film, I saw a lot of blemishes with it. Without further adieu, my review.
Synopsis: (Warning, Spoilers Ahead!!!)
Paranormal Activity 3 opens with footage from the second film. In 2005, Katie brings a box of old videotapes to her sister, Kristi, who is pregnant with the baby who eventually gets kidnapped in PA2. One year later, in 2006, someone or something breaks into the house and takes the box of videotapes. The tapes are then played and we go back to 1988, where Katie and Kristi are young girls.
The young Kristi has been interacting with her invisible friend named “Toby” for quite some time. Everyone just assumes that Kristi has a very playful imagination. Later on that night, the girls’ stepdad, Dennis, is attempting to film a sex tape with the girls’ mom, Julie, when a massive earthquake hits. The camera falls down and records dust from the ceiling landing on an invisible entity, and it shakes the dust off of itself and disappears.
Dennis is reviewing the tapes the next day with his young assistant, Randy, and they both notice the invisible entity on the screen. Dennis decides to put cameras in his bedroom and the girls’ room to try to capture more evidence that there is something in his house. Toby begins to make his presence felt in the house by opening and closing doors, pounding on walls, and dropping objects all over the house. Over time Toby becomes more violent and has its eyes set on Kristi. Dennis does research and learns of a cult that brainwashes girls and impregnates them with the spirit of a demon. The cult’s symbol is a triangle with an eye at its center. Later on, Dennis goes into the girls’ room and discovers that same cult symbol drawn on the walls of the girls’ closet.
Out of fear for her safety and the safety of her family, Julie tells Dennis she wants to get out of the house. They go to Julie’s mother’s house to visit and the movie takes a very unusual twist: Julie’s mom is involved in the same cult that Dennis discovered. Toby kills Dennis and Julie and the grandma has Kristi and Katie under her control. The last image of the film is the grandma taking the girls upstairs, getting them ready for some unknown event, and Toby turning the camera off.
Despite its flaws, I did like the first hour of the film. Even though it followed the same formula as the first two films, the two young directors were able to build a lot of tension which lead to some good jumps. They decided to put a camera on an oscillating fan to move back and forth from the living room to the kitchen. There were a couple of scenes where they really used this technique effectively, especially the scene involving the babysitter. A babysitter is sitting in the kitchen, doing her homework when the camera pans left, where we see a figure hidden under a sheet, trying to be a “ghost”. The camera then pans right back to the girl, still sitting there. Then the camera pans left again, except now the figure is gone. The camera pans right and now the figure is directly behind the girl. The figure is small, so we assume that it is one of the girls. But then out of nowhere, the figure under the sheet disappears and the sheet drops to the floor. It was Toby the whole time. The tension was unbearable for this scene because we kept going back and forth, viewing perspectives from both Toby and the girl. The audience got a real big jump when that sheet dropped to the floor.
I also liked how violent Toby was in this film. He picked Katie up by the hair, scratched Dennis’ assistant Randy in the bathroom, and snapped Dennis’ spine at the end. Overall, I loved the violence that Toby enforced on to the cast. Toby seemed more like a Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers type slasher than a benevolent demon/spirit that he was supposed to be.
Also, the mom, Julie, is smoking hot!!!!! Especially when she is walking around in her underwear/long sleeve shirt combo. Wow!!!! I IMDb’d her (I can’t believe that’s a verb now) for her filmography and I will be renting Bride Wars to watch her in tonight. (Shakes head in disgust)
Oh my, where do I begin? To me, there were two HUGE flaws with this film. Here they are in order of importance:
- Do me a favor and watch this trailer: Looks like a pretty interesting movie huh? Let’s look at the highlights of the trailer, shall we? We have a scene where Kristi jumps off the balcony of her room. We also see Toby get splashed with water and freak out and throw everything around the house. There’s a guy who gets his head smashed into a table. We see the fire that Katie referenced in the first PA film and we see Julie get dragged into the bedroom by Toby, with the doors getting shut behind her. Well guess what: NONE OF THESE COOL LOOKING SCENES SHOWED UP IN THE MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What were the producers thinking, that we wouldn’t notice? The scenes that they cut would have made this a completely different movie. How would you feel if you saw the preview for the Dark Knight Rises and you walk into the theaters next summer and find out that there was no Bane or Commissioner Gordon in the whole movie? Wouldn’t you be disappointed? That’s how I was with this movie after watching this trailer.
- The last 15 minutes of the movie, where we find out that the grandma is in the cult that Dennis read up about earlier in the movie. This ending seemed familiar……..where have I seen it…………oh yeah, it was in The Last Exorcism from earlier this year. Why? Was this Oren Peli’s idea or a studio exec at Paramount’s? When I saw the cult’s symbol drawn on the wall at the grandma’s house, I immediately thought to myself “Jesus Christ, I already saw this type of ending in that other found footage movie from earlier this year”. PA had a good ending. PA2 had a bad ending. This ending was just ugly