After three October releases in a row, “Paranormal Activity” has set itself up as the new yearly Halloween-time scary movie. On the third go around, the franchise has picked up some interesting features. “Paranormal Activity 3” is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directors of the still-controversial maybe-documentary “Catfish.” The third film also continues the trend from the surprise prequel of “Paranormal Activity 2” and dials the setting all the way back to 1988, when the demon was just getting into the haunting game.
A few smart series innovation make this third “Paranormal Activity” more than just retread and prove that the series still has some mileage left in it. Check out the five reasons to see “Paranormal Activity 3” after the jump.
The Formula Works
If you go to see a “Paranormal Activity” movie, you essentially know what you’re going to get. There is going to be a couple/family. There will be mysterious happenings. Someone in the couple/family will be savvy with cameras and insist upon filming said mysterious happenings. Terror ensues. After three surprisingly similar films, the formula is solidified, but you know what? It works. Every time.
Many audience members complained when “Paranormal Activity 2” hit theaters last year that it was identical to the first one. To be honest, they were right. Adding a baby just gave the demon another person to mess with, and “PA3” is no exception. There is a family. (Granted, it’s one we’re more familiar with since the two girls are Katie and Kristi from the previous installments.) Odd things begin to happen in the house. Mom’s boyfriend, who is conveniently a wedding videographer, wants to set up cameras. It’s the same film, but the tension the films create as audience members desperately search the static scene for what is going to scare them next never disappears. But even that could get tried, if the creators of series didn’t acknowledge my next point.
With each subsequent entry into the series, the stakes are always higher in some regard. In the second, more elaborate scares (read: bigger budget) allowed the demon more freedom in its methods to scare the crap out of audiences. Everyone who saw the second one remembers the cabinet scare. “PA3” once again amps up everything that came before it without going over the top or betraying the charm of the low-budget, slow burn scare. If you thought the cabinets were something, you have no idea what kind of havoc the demon is capable of unleashing on your kitchen.
Just as “PA2” filled us in on more of the backstory behind the haunting of Katie and Kristi, the new movie takes us even deeper in the mythos. While the series has never focused heavily on story, the little touches of an overarching story have developed into an intriguing mythology, opening the world for more sequels. It never feels forced, although “PA3” takes a much more literal look at what’s actually going on than ever before. Seeing Katie and Kristi as children and getting somewhat of an origin story will be a satisfying experience for any fan of the series.
That’s all you need to know. It’s a new element to the formula that viewers should go into the theater not knowing much about, but it’s brilliant. You’ll realize its implications quickly, praise it for just how smart it actually is, and curse it because you know how badly it’s going to scare you.
Finally A Scary Movie
This year has been a rough year for movies, but it’s been especially hard on horror films. We’re ten days from Halloween, and not one scary movie has stuck out. In three years, the “Paranormal Activity” series has established itself not only an innovative and smart horror franchise but a consistent one. With each entry, “Paranormal Activity” gives fans what they want while adding just enough to surprise and continually shock.
Do yourself a favor. Go to the theater. Sit in the dark, and let yourself get scared.
Stick with MTV News for all the info on “Paranormal Activity 3,” and if you’ve seen it, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter!