Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Starring Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicolas Smith and Lauren Bittner. 84 minutes. 14A
Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Paranormal Activity 2. But truth be told, I don’t want to, especially after our own Emily tore it apart. I did see the first one, though I didn’t get the hype. But when buzz started going around that the third instalment was the scariest of all, that the series was finally taking horror seriously (and under yet again new direction), I made it a point to watch. And the hype wasn’t too far off.
Paranormal Activity 3 is the prequel to the series original. Remember in the first one when Katie said she’d been haunted since she was a kid? This is that story. The movie follows young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and her younger sister Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) and their naive descent into paranormal insanity, their mother’s boyfriend (Christopher Nicolas Smith) documenting it all.
While the story does attempt to provide answers to some of the questions created by the original, it doesn’t answer some of the most critical questions. However, despite a new writer and directors (yet again), the story does stick fairly close to the original, while bringing a still somewhat-fresh take on the paranormal horror genre. In short, it pays homage to the first, though is even scarier.
What’s most impressing about this movie is its two young leads, out-acting their parental counterparts, particularly on the part of Brown, who is reminiscent of Abigail Breslin in Signs. She’s got the little round face, curious eyes and scraggly long hair, but more than that, she completely convinces you that her character is actually exactly who she is. Here’s hoping she can find the trajectory that Breslin did.
It’s a good scare with a few jumps and some eye-shielding moments (like when a slowly-panning camera seems to take forever to get to the other side of the room). If you haven’t seen the second film yet, like me, don’t bother. It doesn’t matter. Just watch the good ones. B+