Senior staff writer
This October we welcome the latest installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise with feverish excitement. The prequel will satisfy those wondering how it all began.
I will admit, after watching a mini marathon of FX’s American Horror Story, I wondered if viewing Paranormal Activity 3 a few hours later would make me overdose on scary movies. Needless to say, I gave in to peer pressure and got in on the action anyway. Like its predecessors, the film stuck to its roots by using the same found-footage formula. Only this time, the scares are just as sharp, if not sharper than the original, with a bit more character development, eerie conversations, new discoveries, and hair-raising moments (pun intended).
Katie and Kristi, who we were first introduced to in the previous films, remain the core characters. However, we see younger versions of the girls, and learn how a paranormal visitor entered their lives.
The movie is set in the late 80s, as the girls move into a new home with their mother Julie and her boyfriend Dennis. The couple’s curiosity is awakened one night. While they make a sex tape, an earthquake occurs and is captured on film. Upon reviewing the recording the very next day, Dennis notices something else.
Unable to get the unsettling images out of his head, Dennis
invites his friend Randy to review the tape with him to clarify that he’s not hallucinating. The film then goes on to explore a young Kristi’s new found imaginary friend, Toby. It is soon revealed that Toby isn’t what she perceives him to be, and his presence begins to take a startling turn.
For a second, I expected the filmmakers to recycle the same old discoveries, but surprisingly, things just get darker and creepier when Dennis decides to set up a revolving video camera downstairs and in the girls’ bedroom.
Two of the most chilling scenes occur when Katie runs upstairs to her bedroom and literally encounters Toby’s wrath, and when the babysitter is left alone studying downstairs. Studying will never be quite the same.
Normally, it’s fair to think horror franchises don’t know when to quit and story lines become redundant. But screenwriter Christopher B. Landon injects some fresh ideas into Paranormal Activity 3, and the end result works well.
Paranormal Activity 3 came to theatres on October 20.