Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 3

We’re in a position where I have one non-Blumhouse movie left on the list of Blumhouse slash Conjuring universe films: The Nun. I’m going to save the last movie in that series for later, and instead hit up what might be my favorite Paranormal Activity movie: Paranormal Activity 3.

This one is the second prequel-sequel. While it doesn’t have any elements of succeeding the first two movies and it’s all prequel story-line wise, it is still numbered 3 in the series. Chronologically I believe it should be considered first. This one goes back — way back to the 1980s. The sisters from the first two movies are kids, and their mom is dating a wedding photographer/videographer. That’s where the abnormally high number of cameras come in.

This looks like it was shot on a period camera. That is the first thing you’ll notice. Anyone who has ever used a Betamax or 1980s VHS recorder will feel right at home looking at the film of this movie. It’s somewhat warm and nostalgic. I liked that a lot and that might be one of the reasons this is my favorite of the movies.

Once again there’s some children in a horror movie, which isn’t just hit or miss — often, it’s a big miss. This isn’t the case here, for what the kids are asked to do. They nail it, and the adults seem like real people, too. That is super important in these found-footage movies: when a member of the cast seems like they are acting (and bad at it), the entire suspension of disbelief you have to maintain craters and falls apart.

Like the predecessors, there aren’t a lot of special effects. But there are some neat effects as it comes to being creepy: the scene with the sheet in the kitchen stands out. Even if it isn’t absolutely terrifying it’s one of those scenes where I went, “Yep, that’s creepy.” But the adherence of the witches to the wishes of this unseen demon is the truly scary part.

I’ve said it before in a round-about way: the actions of people are where the most horrific and scary things can take place. Even in this movie about a damn demon the scariest thing are the people who worship the demon. Because you can’t deny that people will do horrible things in the name of almost anything.

The nice thing about going back in time this way is also that it leaves the future open, and creates a possibility for more universe to fill in the gap between the third movie’s conclusion and the start of the second movie (which is the previous earliest point in time). It also establishes the cult as having existed for a long time: there’s still potential story there. Even if they never make a movie about it I like it when there’s something left unsaid to speculate on.

All in all, this one is a great little creepy movie. One of the best found-footage style movies I’ve seen and possibly the only one to pull off the 1980s properly decades later. A+ without a doubt or hesitation.

Report Card:
Running Time: An hour thirty four.
Acting: Really good.
Effects: Minimal, but played well.
Violence: Mostly off screen.
Gun Use: No.
Gore: No.
Creepy? Yes.
Monster Type? A demon and some witches.
Funny? A few moments.
Nudity: None.
Pacing: Same as last week: “Pretty good — slow build with a quick turn around.”

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