By Dalton Carver
You know those moments when you desperately want to close your eyes, but you just can’t bring yourself to? That’s when your curiosity gets the best of you, and before you know what’s going on, that curiosity turns into a dull, dreading fear.
That’s the main emotion I felt throughout almost all of Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel to Paranormal Activity 2, which was a prequel to the original Paranormal Activity. Yes, a confusing order to organize the series around, but it definitely makes you watch all of them to understand what’s happening.
The film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, is based around the childhood of the main characters of the first two films, Katie and Kristi, played by Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown respectively, and the paranormal events they experienced during this time. The movie is set in 1988, many years before the events of the other two films. The two girls live with their mother Julie, played by Lauren Bittner and her boyfriend, Dennis, played by Christopher Nicholas Smith, who just happens to be in a profession where he uses a video camera every day.
Everything seems to be fine and dandy with the family until an earthquake shakes the home. During the quake, the camera, set to film some intimate action between the adults in the house, happens to catch some dust that seems to fall upon a figure standing in the room. Dennis discovers the mysterious action while reviewing the film and is convinced there’s something going on in the house. Cue the crazy guy setting up cameras over every single inch of the house.
From this point, as viewers familiar with the series know, everything goes downhill. The movie is set up between a day and night cycle, and needless to say, I felt much more comfortable with the day sections. As I watched the film, I dreaded the progression back into night for fear of what might be caught on the camera. Unlike the other movies, the action really amps up quickly, making you wonder what horrible scene could possibly follow the terrifying one that came before it.
As well as the original static cameras placed around the home, Dennis invents a mounted one that pans back and forth across the room. As it moved to and fro, I was filled with dread of what I might discover that wasn’t there ten seconds ago. The film uses this camera very well, as dread is the movie’s main fear mechanism. However, the film still plays “I Spy” with you, making you search desperately for what could be going wrong with that particular night. Luckily, the activities get more and more noticeable as the film progresses to its extremely creepy climax. Of course, if you were never a fan of first-person view types of movies, like Cloverfield or the Blair Witch Project for example, then this production definitely won’t sway you to suddenly loving them.
Despite Dennis being the cameraman, the instrumental character is Kristi, the younger of the two sisters. Not unlike a lot of young children her age, she has an imaginary friend named Toby. The parents thinking nothing of it, play along with Kristi and pretend that Toby exists. Shortly after the cameras are set up, they catch Kristi getting out of bed and speaking with Toby. When asked what Toby says to her, Kristi simply replies that she cannot reveal her imaginary friend’s secrets. This connection between Toby and Kristi definitely does a good job of setting up the other two films.
However, some of the frightening scenes shown in the trailers didn’t appear in the movie, leaving me to wonder if the film could’ve been even scarier. I won’t give the entire movie away, as I think the film should be experienced in person, but the movie exceeds the first two on the fright meter by a large amount. The trailer warns that the last 15 minutes of the film will “mess you up for life”. I can’t say that my psyche is permanently damaged, but I will say that I’m having a bit of trouble sleeping nowadays.
Dalton Carver is a freshman majoring in communication. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.