In the first “Paranormal Activity,” director Oren Peli seemed to have a one off horror movie in mind, but did allude to a lot of back story during the film. We do know from the first movie that Katie had been suffering from odd hauntings all her life, and had blocked out a lot of her childhood leaving the door open for the mysterious demon to enter in to the lives of she and her husband Micah. “Paranormal Activity 3” ventures even further back and widens the scope of the narrative to explore the deeper mythos behind the series of hauntings that took the lives of Katie and her husband.
Set in 1988, the third film in the series looks back at sisters Katie and Kristi, two sisters adjusting to a new life with their mother and their new step dad Dennis, a videographer who is struggling to make ends meet filming weddings. Around the time of Katie’s birthday, strange events begin to occur within the household, and using the means before him, Dennis is intent on finding out what’s plaguing his household, and who youngest daughter Krisi continues confiding in when she’s alone. “Paranormal Activity 3” completely turns the tables on audience expectations and manages to pull the threads from the first and third film and bind them together in to a very cohesive continuity, including some visual cues that really do hearken back to the first film.
Since the decade does exclude digital and computer technology, writer Christopher Landon finds clever ways to provide audience with first hand glimpses at the haunting without ever questioning the logic of the video. Since Dennis is a videographer, it’d only make sense he has connections and can perform a set up of various camcorders around his house, and when the moment comes to include a more hidden camera, there’s a very clever explanation involving a dismantled oscillating fan and a mounted camcorder. The constant left and right motion of the fan allows for incredible moments of pure terror or panic, as when the camera pans over slowly objects and figures appear and disappear in sheer instances.
There are some brutally scary moments where the oscillating fan becomes a device or pure horror, allowing the audience to gasp and pray for the fan to pan over to its original direction allowing for a longer glimpse at an incident. Though the film does reveal more of what the clear cut demon is and what its intent is, there’s still a healthy amount of ambiguity left to keep viewers coming back for more. The demon (nicknamed “Toby” by daughter Kristi) has a lot more presence and intent, and often times his relationship with daughter Kristi is disturbing, even before the warning signs present themselves. Unlike other children, Kristi almost seems to be in an abusive relationship with the unseen entity, horrified to even bother the temperamental spirit, and holding secrets from her family that warns will bring terribly danger to them if she reveals what she’s been told.
When we reach the final moments of the film, it becomes very clear where this story is headed and how truly merciless and ruthless this monster is when the smoke clears. Like the second film, “Paranormal Activity 3” excels in subtlety and mounting terror, and delivers a hell of a great installment of a strong horror series. Allowing a deeper more complex look at the lives of series character Katie and her ill fated sister Kristi, “Paranormal Activity 3” drips with tension, horror, and building suspense that explodes in to a mind blowing finale that you’ll not soon forget.