Saturday, 21 January 2012

REVIEW: Paranormal Activity 3

From the directors of Catfish comes a prequel after ... a prequel.

People who know me know how much I enjoyed the first Paranormal Activity, but the second one was terrible to say the least. However, it's somehow clawed back from the edge to give a somewhat entertaining film that does quite well.

It's tough to suddenly take over the third film of a franchise, especially with something like this. The parameters have already been established, people are returning on the basis of expecting something what they've already seen and already you've got to reach some expectations - especially since the first film was the biggest success story since Blair Witch. Luckily, to follow on from the appalling second film doesn't take much.

What makes this film appealing is that it carries a narrative of sorts, something that was loosely applied to the second film and merely mentioned in the first, this film tries to fill in some gaps but still give a good scare. The main difference here is that, different from the second one, the directors have fleshed out the characters a bit more and carried on with the idea that the entity is a metaphor for a deeper anxiety in the family, this being the stepdad's integration into the family. The clear difference however, is that in this one you kind of even 'see' the ghost, it's given a personality, a character and even a name.

The stepdad films weddings, which gives the idea of filming his family some kind of acceptable basis. They have even used the camera pans effectively to create some quite terrifying moments and the children, who are the main characters in 1 and 2, are actually quite convincing. The story as such was pretty good in that it explains a lot about the basis of the Paranormal Activity history, however it also takes away a bit from the whole 'it could happen to you' element that made the first one so popular, the less you know the better, but when number 2 had royally fucked that up anyway, you might as well try and give it some depth in the third one.

So, putting the story aside, how is it as a horror film? The answer is quite good, the suspense was chilling and the pay-offs were ok. I'm still a little bemused by the fact that the 'old' ghost looks like a little child or something, that it has moods and is around during the day. The idea is that this devil creature also spends more time with the children than the parents do, they even have fun together. In a way, this makes it slightly more terrifying and even slightly perverse. I didn't think this was anything amazing, but this was the best effort that I could imagine for a third in the series, and that has to be congratulated. For me, it still doesn't reach the heights of the first one, but it's a great effort and it's nice to see a film that returns to what horror is essentially all about, pure character.

Rating: 6/10

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