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Paranormal Activity 3 - Blu-ray Movie Review

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paranormal Activity 3 - Movie Review

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3 Stars

Boo!  Paramount is at it again; third straight year and third straight sequel to their and America’s seemingly favorite paranormal phenomenon.  While the creep factor is still solidly in place for the patient viewer, the answers provided by Paranormal Activity 3 to the questions built up over the course of the previous two movies seem to deflate the series’ overall impact.  Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), the third outing maintains the look and found footage feel of the original, shares the same spooks as the sequel, and tries to provide the ending to make sense of all three.  For the most part, they do, yet not without sacrificing the singular setting and the logic that grounded the first two films in its modern day era.

The year is 1988.  The setting is San Jose, California.  Young sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) are already plagued by a spirit.  Kristi calls him Toby.  Katie tries to ignore him.  After her birthday party, Toby takes the proverbial gloves off and steps up his midnight assault against the house; he wants attention.  Kristi and Katie’s mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner), mainly ignores and dismisses the little girls’ claims as a child’s limitless imagination.  Inspired by a challenge to prove that thought wrong, their step-dad, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), decides to document their claims by equipping their house with three VHS camcorders from his business; one in the kids’ bedroom, one in his and Julie’s bedroom, and the final one on a rotating fan’s base in the kitchen.

Toby doesn’t disappoint; a babysitter is pushed, Katie’s hair is pulled, the house shakes, the kitchen is virtually levitated, various sounds are heard throughout the house, and the cameras record it all…on VHS.  They say seeing is believing, but for Julie experiencing is believing and, when she finally witnesses something that cannot be explained, the family vacates its San Jose residence for a respite in her mother’s house which, as it turns out, is exactly what Toby – working through Kristi – wants.

The relatable reality that marked the first two films is somewhat traded for its 1988 surroundings.  Natural light, dated conversations about the title of a hit movie, and Teddy Ruxpin dolls mark the film with curious moments, yet the small-screen acting from Smith and Bittner never proves convincing.  Still, some moments scream for our attention.  When a babysitter actually sits at the table to do her homework instead of playing with her iPhone or surfing the internet the difference of the times is heard loud and clear; once upon a time we were a focused nation.  Ironic that it is the makers of Catfish that point this out to us…

The film isn’t happy with just being a bumps-in-the-night flick.  It now wants to explain and justify the chills and scares of the first two movies.  Writer Christopher Landon doesn’t let the horror happen without a purpose; there is now a mythology that must be served so that a lifelong connection with this ghost who watches over the two sisters - clear into their adulthood – can be justified.  While believable enough, the forced narrative doesn’t exactly do enough disturbing along the way to make you want to come back for more.  Simply put, the film is more aware of itself than the others.  Too much, including the performances, feels forced to be genuine.

That’s not saying the film doesn’t have its moments.  When it goes back to the basics and gives its audience the nighttime scenes of ghostly bumps and wall-rattling, Paranormal Activity 3 fires up again.  There are hair-raising moments that are better than the wicked sequel, a bit more disturbing than the original, but nothing that speaks of true identity.  All you have are the answers that occur when the momentum dips after traveling some distance for a fifteen-minute finale that isn’t as shocking as it thinks it is.

Oren Peli has created a series that is a virtual cash machine for Paramount and they are understandably slow to let it go.  The first one was great.  The second was even better, but the third one begins to suffer in its welcome; the mileage in the voyeur-esque nocturnal hauntings is beginning to show.

How long until the Paranormal Activity completely runs out of steam?  This new narrative hints at a 1930s beginning.

That’s a ghost story I hope to never see.

{2jtab: Film Details}

paranormal Activity 3 - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for some violence, language, brief sexuality and drug use.
Director
: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer
: Christopher B. Landon, Oren Peli
Cast:
Katie Featherston; Sprague Grayden; Lauren Bittner; Chloe Csengery
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
It Runs In The Family
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary."
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
www.paranormalmovie.com
Release Date: October 21, 2011
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 24, 2012

Synopsis: In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Paranormal Activity 3

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 24, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio: Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Playback: Region A

Because we can’t judge the dated look of Paranormal Activity 3 by the usual 1080p Blu-ray transfer, HD enthusiasts should lower their expectations.  There is a stylistically “soft” undercurrent that dominates the picture.  Shot to look like it was caught on VHS tape, the paranormal happenings are the highlights and, captured at night, retain an edge that enhances the darkness of the picture.  Shadow and black levels are consistently pure.  The film has pleasant colors – with face and skin tones slightly warm – but people looking for cutting-edge colors should look elsewhere.  This has the look of a family home recording, as it should.  To be disappointed by the picture is to misunderstand this entire series.  Textures are fine, but not too detailed and, at times, the lighting (made to look natural) feels a bit choppy.  Maybe a bit more unnoticed finesse next time?  While the film is made to look like a chugging VHS tape, the sound is a ripe affair…maybe too ripe.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack slams its ambience upon the entire house and loudly thumps and vibrates its noticeable self with the best of soundscapes.  Dialogue is crisp, thunderstorms are direct, and the ambiance is a plus.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

As vacant as the other releases, Paranormal Activity 3’s supplementals leave a bit to the imagination.  While the release does feature the unrated version of the film (which includes 10 more minutes of story), the supplementals are just not important.  We get a montage of Dennis scaring Julie, a commercial for Dennis’ fake business, and a digital copy of the film.  Nothing of interest to be found here.

  • Scare Montage (2 min)
  • Dennis’ Commercial (1 min)
  • Unrated Director’s Cut (94 min)
  • DVD Copy
  • Digital Copy

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