Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

            Paranormal Activity 3.  Oh, good lord, Paranormal Activity 3.  I don’t even know where to begin with this.  You know, I was rather favorable towards the first.  Even for all its flaws, if you had asked me after watching it, I did enjoy it.  And, you know, in the end, I enjoyed Paranormal Activity 3.  But this was mostly for all the wrong reasons, some because of the film itself, some because of what the film represents.
            The movie sets itself as a prequel to the franchise.  Julie (Lauren Bittner) has moved into a new house with her boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), along with Julie’s two daughters, Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi Rey (Jessica Tyler Brown).  Kristi claims to see an imaginary friend named Toby, and if you can’t see where this is going you need to watch more horror movies.  So yeah, creepy stuff happens involving an invisible demon/ghost thing (by the way, that scene in the trailer where the girls summon a ghost using Bloody Mary?  Doesn’t happen, and has nothing to do with its existence), Dennis films it all, and then we get to one of the worst final acts I’ve seen a movie stuck with, but we’ll get to that.
            The main problem with the movie is that there’s nothing here that anybody who’s seen a horror movie can’t see coming.  I was able to predict every fake-out jump scare along the way.  They still made me jump, sure, but it’s cheap scares.  This is a movie that’s supposed to go past that.  The creepiness of the first movie mainly came from how much was happening when the couple wouldn’t normally see it.  It’s a haunting paranoia, the kind of thing that makes you wonder what happens when you close your eyes to sleep.  This movie has plenty of things happen that people see or experience, which just generally cheapens the creepiness factor.  In fact, everything now just seems so much bigger.  Now, I haven’t seen the second movie, so I’m rather comparing while missing a piece of the puzzle, but I think it’s a fair comparison to make, to see how far the franchise has gone in a mere two movies.  People now have to be lifted by invisible monsters, furniture flies all over the place.  I didn’t mind it, I could enjoy it.  I enjoyed it a lot more when it was called Poltergeist, though. 
The words that could not escape me while watching it were “popcorn horror”.  It’s meant to be the haunted house thrills for Halloween.  It doesn’t delve into the deep psyche of the human soul.  It gives a few scares that are pretty easily digested.  I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for the language, this is a movie you could take the whole family too.  Oh sure, little Timmy might have some nightmares, but there’s no gore, no deep themes.  It’s light fluff.  And it was fluff I was more than willing to give a generally positive review.
Up until the final act.  Hell, let’s even say the final 15 minutes.  You see, at some point, the family gets fed up with their house and decides to go to grandma’s house.  And then the movie just goes so far into unintentional hilarity that what you just watched for the past 70 minutes might as well just be erased.  It goes so big, so over-the-top, that it loses all the scare factor.  I felt that the first Paranormal Activity didn’t escalate enough.  If Paranormal Activity 3 is what escalation looks like, I’m fine with static.  And this all revolves around a twist so pointless and random that M. Night Shyamalan probably wishes he had written it.  Let’s face it, a twist only works if there’s a plot that can be twisted.  PA3 only has enough plot to bring you from scare to scare.  Trying to draw a twist out of it was a huge mistake.
But like I said, I still enjoyed PA3.  Would I recommend you go see it in theaters?  Hell no.  This is a movie meant to draw in teens looking for some cheap thrills, and they’d probably go to any found horror movie that comes out (there was even a trailer for another one before PA3).  But maybe, at home, with a few beers and a good sense of humor, you might get some scares and some laughs to justify 85 minutes of your time.  It’s an absolutely harmless movie that’s fun in the right context, but in the grand scheme of things, won’t be significant besides the money it made.

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