Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Starring Christopher Nicholas Smith, Lauren Bittner, Chloe Csengery, and Jessica Tyler Brown
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Sometimes you just have to concede that a movie concept is not for you and I think the Paranormal Activity franchise just doesn't work for this reviewer. Even with this third chapter (a prequel to the first two) being the best of the series, I still can't get past the fact that all three of these films have quite literally an hour of nothing happening followed by twenty minutes of tense horror. I could almost give it some slack if these films were at least creating a very slow build-up in the first sixty minutes to some amazing payoff, but that just isn't the case. I think there is an attempt at the aforementioned slow build-up to amazing payoff, but it didn't succeed in the first two and it doesn't succeed in this third flick either.
Still, rather positively, Paranormal Activity 3 at least has some semblance of a story beyond "ghost invades a house and someone videotapes it." Granted, it still has that tried and true storyline, but as a prequel, we go back to 1988 to when the first movie's Katie and the second movie's Kristi (played respectively by Katie Featherston and Sprague Graydon in brief cameos here) are young kids. Thanks to the first two movies, we were aware that sisters Katie and Kristi experienced some type of paranormal activity in their home when they were children, but in this third movie, the audience gets to witness what they went through. With nice performances from the child actors Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown (particularly Brown as Kristi who manages to be cute as a button and creepy at the same time), and, across the board, the best turns from adult actors in the series (thanks to Lauren Bittner as the girls' mother and Christopher Nicholas Smith as her new younger boyfriend), the film is already able to improve on the first two of the series. Couple the better performances with an ending that admittedly surprise me a little bit and you've got checkmarks in the positive column.
However, Paranormal Activity 3, much like the first two, fails to hold my interest in the first hour. It's just not exciting to watch video of nothing happening and even though filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (who brought us last year's great documentary Catfish) try a few different techniques to make things at least interesting, but they're admirable failures. I know people love these movies, but a great ending doesn't necessarily negate an interminable beginning and that's certainly the case in all these flicks.
The RyMickey Rating: C+