Thursday, October 20, 2011

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 review: He said/She said/She said

Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Written by: Christopher B. Landon and Oren Peli
Starring: Jessica Tyler Brown, Chloe Csengery, Lauren Bittner, and Christopher Nicholas Smith
Synopsis: A prequel where we visit Katie and Kristi as young girls and the entity that torments them.

Javi: To preface my experience with the franchise, I saw the second one first because by the time I could have gone to see the first one, the hype was so big, and I didn't know if I could enjoy to the degree of the hype. However, I enjoyed it. I saw the first one the same night, and I found the law of diminishing returns to applied to this series. With the third installment, I found myself completely bored and really felt like this franchise could have ended with the second one.

My big problem was these movies have to adhere to a very special formula (cameras installed in the home, subtle changes, lots of silence) that made the first movie unique. With this third outing, the scares seemed to be bigger, but they just weren't worth the 30-40 minute set-up that one has to sit through. What could be considered the most interesting part of the movie, the last 10-15 minutes, are also very jarring compared to the rest of the franchise and just add unnecessary mythology to it. Overall, this movie could have been OK just existing as a supplemental to the second movie because the amount of set up and scares don't justify the existence of this movie.

Jonesy: If a formula works, then use it to its fullest degree. Hollywood takes this notion to heart, and horror movies are no exception. You know exactly what you're going to experience when you walk into PA3: jump scares, creepy noises, and things that go bump in the night. I have an unabashed love for found footage film, so I have completely eaten up this whole series...until now.

For most of the movie, the tension is slow building with a few bumps and scares sprinkled throughout until the last act when all hell breaks lose. There are some new innovative scares that were very effective that I really enjoyed. The two young actresses as young Kristi and Katie held their own on screen against the demon. And even though we know they survive because we've seen the first two movies, the movie was able to build enough tension to worry about their well-being. However, the story arc told in PA3 feels more out of place with the other two. PA3, even though it's suppose to be a prequel, was too convoluted with trying to explain/add to the mythology. Overall, I enjoyed two-thirds of the movie, but the last act lost me.

Jessica: I didn't go in to PA3 expecting much to be different than the first two, and I was right. It follows the same formula of the first two, and somehow I feel like it fails at the formula the most of the three. While it has the same success in getting you to jump out of your seat with loud noises and inanimate objects moving around, the set up of the premise of the film just did not work for me. It was the least believable, and I feel like a found footage film should hold some sort of roots in reality, even if it is a horror movie.

That being said, after thinking about my discontent with the movie, I realized how much one particular section had stuck with me. This particular section is incredibly effective and possibly one of the scariest scenes I have seen in a horror movie in a long time. While PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is not ground-breaking, and maybe not even as good as the first two, I don't feel like it was a complete failure. I thought it had more humor than the first two, and more of a fun tone to it. The acting, particularly by the two young actresses playing Kristi and Katie, was great. I enjoyed watching it, but I just don't think it added anything to the mythology of the franchise.

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