Paranormal Activity 3 - 1 out of 5
Normally I wait until a film hits DVD before I review it on my blog because I'm very picky about the movies I see in the theater. Number 1) seeing a movie in the theater is frakking expensive, Number 2) seeing a movie in the theater is frakking expensive and finally, if I want to see a movie in the theater, there's a great chance that I'm pumped to see the movie and I'm not just experimenting and seeing it for the hell of it because...seeing a movie in the theaters is FUCKING expensive.
Recently, my girlfriend wanted to see a movie and, being the awesome boyfriend I am, let her pick the film. Since Halloween is upon us, she decided to go see the latest in the Paranormal Activity franchise.
Paranormal Activity has become the new yearly Halloween franchise that will, probably for the next several years, be churning out mediocre, cheaply made gimmicks that, mysteriously, makes millions of dollars. However, I have to say with the latest installment, they have been able to keep up the level of quality that the others produced. That quality? Pure and other shit made for no other reason than to make money.
Did you think this scene was cool from the trailer? Well, this and 90% of the other scenes in the trailer isn't even in the film. That means our money hungry filmmakers are planning on either re-releasing it or putting out an "extended cut" DVD. Now that's scary.
Trying to capitalize on the success of The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity was, at least from my perspective, a poorly edited collection of cheap scares that, for me, were never scary. The film was basically a mash up of all the "cats in the closet" scares that most mainstream horror films contain without the follow up scare that involved the killer stabbing the now relieved victim in the face. The story about two very unlikeable characters being haunted by a demon and shown from the gimmicky perspective of the now overdone "found footage" genre of horror films did little to keep my attention. In fact, the only way I was able to stay awake was by watching it with RiffTrax commentary. But, the reality is, I knew the film was going to be a wash when I first popped it into my DVD player. Why, you ask? Because of the ads that showed audiences reacting to the film. Whenever a horror film does that, you're guaranteed to see an over-hyped piece of shit. And sure enough, that's what was delivered.
So, for reasons I will never understand, people found this film frightening and it made bank, so, like all money-making movies, a sequel was produced and since this movie doesn't pay money to have decent actors or put time into a story or plot, it takes no time to make and a year later, we got Paranormal Activity 2. I don't want to waste my time talking about it but the only good thing about that one was the pool vacuum. That was the only good character in the otherwise snore-inducing sequel. But, like ICP and their reason for why fucking magnets work, a miracle occurred and it made bank once again so, in 2011, we were once again treated with a low-budget, bad acting, plot-hole encrusted prequel.
Creatively titled, Paranormal Activity 3, takes the story back to when the sisters from the previous two films were wee little ones and when the haunting from the demon started. When you grind the film down to a fine powder and filter that movie powder, you see that nothing really new is going on in this film--in fact, you don't even need to grind it down as it is obvious from the get-go! The only real difference (other than the film taking place in the 80s) is that the movie decides to go balls out with the scares but the filmmakers had to do this because the franchise is beating a dead horse now--actually, it was beating said horse when the sequel came out and I think they've moved on to the next horse ranch for more horse beatings, right before jumping the shark on their way over.
Static shots of a bedroom--exactly what horror films need.
Despite pulling out all stops (and by pulling out all stops, I mean no more floor creaking, door slamming or swinging light fixtures to pass as scares), the film still fails entirely with creating tension and suspense and only goes for the quick spook. In the first film, all scares were announced with a low end rumble that appeared up to 30 seconds before the demon did his pathetic antics. To be honest, every time the rumble happened, not only was the film screaming "HEY, WE'RE GOING TO TRY AND SCARE YOU NOW," I secretly hoped that the rumbling was actually Darth Vader using the Force to choke out the filmmakers, trying to halt production of a crummy horror film. But, as we can see, that was only wishful thinking.
However, the film didn't utilize Vader's rumble to alert the viewers to the scares (and yet, somehow people were still pissing their pants with fear during the movie), the filmmakers decide that they need to dig deep into the horror film's steamer trunk of cliches and pull out the most obvious tool for alerting to scares--2nd only to musical cues--the long, slow walk towards a mysterious sound. While trying to stay awake in the theater, I actually lost count on how many times the film recycled this formula in a lame and desperate attempt to scare. Sometimes, these long, slow walks would last upwards to 3 minutes and by the time the scare actually arrived, I was bored out of my mind and ready to go to the dentist to get a root canal because that would have been a better use of my time and money. (Remember, seeing movies in the theater is flipping expensive.)
Finally, (this has to be finally because my laundry list of complaints for these movies could make me write forever) this film creates tons of plotholes in its own self-created mythology and story as it unravels like a sweater knitted by a grandmother suffering from dementia. I won't list them all as I don't think my body has the strength to start (and I don't want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it and, because they're a glutton for punishment, wants to see it) but the biggest plothole comes in the form of who put the footage of this haunting together for us, the audience, to see.
In the first film, it's explained (and blatantly stolen from The Blair Witch) that the police put together the footage and released it--it doesn't bother explaining why the cops felt we needed to see the annoying ass that is Micah begging Katie for sex or the other 60 minutes of filler the movie delivers but at least the question of who put the raw footage together is answered. This same question isn't even remotely addressed in this film and, if you think about it too much, you'll end up going insane as you try to understand why the fuck I have to see some of the most unnecessary dialogue and sequences ever to be committed to film.
I try to always find something positive about the movies I review and Paranormal Activity 3 is incredibly difficult to locate any shred of entertainment. The scares are weak to the point they didn't even exist for me, the acting is terrible, the story is laughable and most of the plot makes no sense (like why is every single second of the day filmed and why are you NOT tossing the camera aside as all hell is breaking loose around you?). However, there were two sequences in the movie that I found interesting--interesting, not scary. The only reason these two scenes intrigued me was because of the camera work and the use of practical, not computer, effects to create haunting sequences. After seeing these, I wasn't nearly scared by them but actually said, "hmm, that was cool, I wonder how they did that." But that was the only positive thing I was able to walk away with from this otherwise pointless film.
I can't wait until they make one that is actually scary.
To fully enjoy Paranormal Activity 3, you need to check your brain at the door and possibly leave it there for the next week or so. If you even take a single second to examine any actions taken by the characters or any tidbit of the story, you will go insane over the stupidity of it all. Like the other films, the only scare I received from it was the worry that I would fall asleep and someone would take my wallet while I was out. But this reaction doesn't surprise me because the film was made for no other reason than to make money. The filmmakers obviously didn't care about suspense or tension, all they cared about was large bags with big black dollar signs on it. And, to be honest, that offends me even more than the fact we're going to see a fourth film next Halloween.