The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for. A huge success in 1999 it ushered in a new era of cheaply made horror. Filmed entirely on video with actors screaming in front of the camera with minimal emotion it became an unlikely hit. The Paranormal Activity franchise has taken its cue to the ultimate degree with various spooky happenings occurring on a shoe-string budget. Its third entry is no different as it uses every piece of creaking door and moving objects to supposedly terrifying effect.
Katie (Katie Featherston) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden) are two young sisters living with their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Daniel (Brian Boland). The family seem to enjoy life when suddenly events take a sinister turn. Hearing strange noises and witnessing odd occurrences, Daniel takes it upon himself to capture everything on film. What he sees fills him with dread as events escalate to a deadly and shocking denouncement.
Paranormal Activity 3 adheres to exactly the same formula as the others. Since it has made tons of money from doing so you can’t really blame the producers for continuing this. It would have been great had it actually been scary – a prerequisite for any alleged horror movie. Whilst it has its moments this third entry refuses to try anything new with the endless ‘bump in the night’ motif becoming tiresome.
The only aspect of interest is the character’s back-story. Expanding on previous instalments it answers some questions raised. Unfortunately even more are posed with logic taking a holiday. Certain character motivations make little sense with the story ultimately relying on their reactions to events rather than developing their personas.
Those wanting no-frills thrills may receive something out of Paranormal Activity 3. Others who recall the halcyon days of horror such as the Nightmare on Elm Street films may wonder why the genre has fallen so far as to rely on such insipid and uninspiring entries such as this.
Rating out of 10: 2
Ewan McGregor does his usual fine job as a man who thinks who knows who he is, but then discovers his identity is not what it appeared to be. McGregor makes a fine action hero, but gives a better performance in the ’slow’ sections of the film. He appears to be more comfortable in these scenes than in the big action ones. Scarlett Johansson is quite good in her first action role, and gives her role a subtle charm amid all the chaos that follows. Sean Bean makes an arresting villain and chews the scenery as only he can. Steve Buscemi turns up as a worker in the colony, and gives his usual hammy performance. The rest of the cast do what they can with the material, but once the explosions start, the body count goes up and the quality of the performances goes down!
Mention must be made of the production design of the film, which is fantastic. Most of the costumes that the survivors wear are all white, which goes with the white decor in the place they live in. This gives the film a very stark look - although it must be said, it does add to the cliché that is found in most sci fi films that the future is either bright or a dark grungy place. The story in the film is quite interesting, with a few surprises, but once the explosions start, plot and pacing go out the window, and it essentially becomes a very long chase film. In the hands of a better director, this could have been quite an intelligent film. As it is, this is basically a popcorn entertainment movie for undiscriminating types.
Rating out of 10: 5