Possibly the best Halloween plans I had in years: I went to see Paranormal Activity 3. While it’s not an instant-classic Halloween film, and God there are so many Halloween films now, it was a brilliant way to pass some time on the “scariest night of the year”. While I did enjoy the first two films, there was always a question of “Why?” Why were they being haunted? Why couldn’t they get away from it? Why don’t the women remember their childhood? With this latest instalment, writers Landon and Peli attempted to give us some answers.

And you know what? Without making the film a proverbial Q&A, they did just that. Bringing us back to 1988 and the childhood of Kristi and Katie – the lovely protagonists of the first two films – allows us to see what’s been missing from the first two films: reason. The hauntings in themselves are creepy, yes, but it’s a lot creepier when you consider the connection children have with the supernatural: they can see ghosts, for instance.

You know what that does, right? Not only do you have a creepy haunting (and it’s much creepier this time around!), you also have a creepy little girl who sees the ghost/demon/entity.

What I thought might annoy me was the camera. If you’ve seen the previous films, you know the camera is done from things you can buy commercially: one of the characters holds the camera, until they set up a rig to hold the camera. I won’t spoil the film on you by telling you about the ways in which it’s done this time (except that they use VHS!), but I have to admit, it’s a lot better than the security camera approach in PA2.

I don't know what's creepier: the reflection, or the fact this didn't happen

In terms of acting… well, I think the choice of male leads has gotten better as the franchise goes on. Micah (PA1) always seemed a bit weak, while Daniel (PA2) was more enjoyable as a lead but not quite fitting to the role. The new lead, Dennis, is different. Dennis is the one who believes, but he’s also the outsider: he’s the step-father of Kristi and Katie, and so he immediately has communication problems with them. It added a new human dimension to the films that was never there before, and the acting was much better than in the previous films. When it comes to Horror, this isn’t usually a matter of huge significance. Too many films have so-so acting because the point is to show-case the monster.

Usually, the monster isn’t invisible.

Overall, Paranormal Activity 3 was definitely an improvement on the franchise. There’s still time to see it in the cinema, and it’s not one you want to miss in that scenario: there’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting through a Horror and hearing people jump at all the wrong places. It’s even better when it’s a fully grown man screaming.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Additional Info:

Director: Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost
Age Rating: R (US), 15 (UK), 15A (Ireland)
Release Date: October 21st 2011

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