MOVIE – “Paranormal Activity 3”
DIRECTOR – Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
WRITERS – Christopher B. Landon
SIX DEGREES OF CAST & CREW
- Christopher B. Landon is the son of someone famous, and likely the most famous person involved with this movie. His father? “Highway to Heaven” himself, Michael Landon! Christopher Landon previously wrote “Paranormal Activity 2” and “Disturbia,” among other things.
- Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are the duo behind another found footage/mockumentary flick, “Catfish.” “Catfish,” like “Paranormal Activity,” rode the wave of “did it or didn’t it actually happen?” to box office mediocrity. Unlike “Paranormal Activity,” “Catfish” is the center of two lawsuits, which means the movie will probably never turn a profit because Relativity Media and the filmmakers would be required to prove that “Catfish” actually happened.
- The two young children in “Paranormal Activity 3,” Jessica Tyler Brown (Kristi) and Chloe Csengery (Katie) have resumes that last longer than the much older actress who played Katie Featherston in the first PA, Katie Featherston. Katie only has two non-Paranomral credits, “Psychic Experiment” and “Mutation” (neither of which sound like anything anyone has ever seen.
In “Paranormal Activity,” a young woman named Katie (Katie Featherston) found herself living in a lovely house with her boyfriend Micah. They had an unusual houseguest in the form of some sort of evil spirit that wreaked havoc, slammed doors, and generally made a nuisance of itself until people died. In Paranormal Activity 2, Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland), and their new baby (New Baby) were the focus of the demon’s activity. Basically, this time the demon wreaked havoc, slammed doors, rattled expensive cookware, and generally made a nuisance of itself until people died. Paranormal Activity 3 is the story of how the first two Paranormals got their Activity.
Julie (Lauren Bittner) is a lovely young divorced (or widowed, the movie isn’t clear) young mother with two beautiful daughters, Katie and Kristi, and a handsome boyfriend named Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) who is a wedding videographer by trade. When unusual things start happening in their house, Dennis is interested in capturing the phenomenon in true 80’s style, via giant VHS cameras on tripods throughout the house. Of course, the difference between you capturing something and something capturing you is a pretty slim one, and what started out as an interesting phenomenon soon turns out to be something very dangerous for the happy young family.
While Paranormal Activity 3 is ostensibly a found footage movie, it separates itself from Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 by having more of an actual plot. Rather than just watching things happen, as in the first two, this is the movie that explains why the first two happen. Rather than simply taking the PA formula and repeating it, PA3 is a prequel that sets up the other two, so that gives PA3 a bit more direction without straying from the “creepy thing happens in the middle of the night” formula.
The addition of a few extra characters, like Randy (Dustin Ingram), adds a little more to the movie to make it a little more interesting. Rather than simply having Julie and Dennis talking to one another for hours, or Julie and Dennis interacting with the kids, it gives them some other adults to discuss their demon problem with, as well as other targets for the demon’s interests and torments. Impressively, the two kids are a great match for their adult counterparts, especially facially, and unlike a lot of movies, the kids in PA3 aren’t precocious little snots. They seem like normal kids, and talk like normal kids, which is a credit to Christopher Landon’s script.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have managed to take a fairly static filmmaking style and add some fun touches to it. It’s the same type of movie as the first, but there’s a lot more style this time around (and not just awesome 80’s fashions, either). The scares come early and often, ranging from simple jump scares to elaborate set pieces. It takes a bit for the really good stuff to start happening, but even the build-up has some great startles. The slowly rotating camera mounted on an old fan is a touch of brilliance that creates a ton of tension, simply by moving from the living room to the kitchen and vice versa. To their credit, Joost and Schulman have added things to the Paranormal style guide, but haven’t replaced paranoia with plot.
If you liked “Paranormal Activity,” then you’ll love “Paranormal Activity 3.” Of the entries in the series, this one has somehow managed to pass the first one to become my favorite of the bunch. More importantly, it’s a great stopping-place for this franchise in the making. If you have to go out, you may as well go out on a high note, and I don’t see how any possible Paranormal Activities in the future could top this one. “Paranormal Activity 3″ is the high water mark for the franchise, and one of the rare horror sequels worth seeing in the theater with a room full of dumb teenagers.
RATING – 4 door-slamming evil spirits of 5