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Paranormal Activity 3: Chilling Prequel Or Tiresome Addition to the Horror Series?

Posted on the 20 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Kristi Paranormal Activity

Kristi looked pretty scary even before she became possessed by a demon. Photo Credit: Paramount

If you’ve got ghosts in your house, it’s probably a good idea to film them, financially at least. Oren Peli’s first Paranormal Activity, shot for about £9,500 in his own Condo grossed around £123 million worldwide in 2009. The third installment in the found-footage horror series will be released on Friday, October the 21st, and has already been shown to fans in sneak previews around the world; Paranormal producers Paramount Pictures’s vice chairman John Horn told The Los Angeles Times that the studio hopes the screenings will help to drive what he called “a phenomenon completely driven by word of mouth”, referring to the first two films’ success.

The film takes us back to the origins of the demonic hauntings that affect sisters Katie (Katie Featherstone) and Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden) in the first two movies, back to their childhood in 1988. The two characters, now girls played by child actresses (Chloe Csengery as the young Katie and Jessica Tyler Brown as the young Kristi) are filmed by their mother’s boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) who becomes obsessed with documenting the paranormal activity (although he realises that it just makes it worst). This prequel promises to tell us “how the activity began”, but not why the activity began, and we don’t get much more plot than that which has already been revealed in the second film, setting the stage for another installment next year.

This edition in the series Paranormal Activity, which was made by directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (of Facebook-stalker documentary Catfish fame) has been hotly anticipated by critics. Here’s the pick of the bunch:

Well filmed and very scary. Richard Corliss for Time magazine was even scared in his own home after watching Paranormal Activity 3 — the film’s strength comes from the fact that it plunders “the terror implicit of everyday objects”, he decided. Corliss praised the camera-work, saying “the camera plays tricks that kept last night’s audience in an ecstasy of masochism.”

A better film than the last one. Paranormal Activity 3 is “tighter and scarier than the previous installment”, enthused Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter. The film has greater range than the last one, and “features ample doses of humor that both provides a pressure valve for the tension and brings a welcome self-conscious mockery to the proceedings”, he adjudged.

Full of faults. Eric Kohn at film blog Indie Wire countered that the film is full of flaws and plot holes (most importantly — shouldn’t the characters in the first two films have known what was going on?). Though he acknowledged the “clever” cinematography, Kohn argued that the characters “lack the dimensionality” needed in order for the audiences to care when they’re in peril and called the film a “tiresome addition” to the franchise.

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