Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) – 4/5

Silly, but extremely effective and frightening sequel that is arguably the scariest of the bunch so far despite taking the story in a weird new direction by the end. The new element adds depth, certainly, I just don’t know if I completely bought it. Then again, it is a movie about an invisible monster demon that terrorizes people via slamming doors and turning on lights, so plausibility isn’t a high priority here, I guess. It’s one of those films that’s both clever and silly, depending on how much time you spend thinking about it.

Questionable plot developments aside, the film is scary, which is really the most important thing. These aren’t cheap scares either, though there are a few of those too here and there. It’s the kind of stuff that made the first so effective, and the second seem so toothless in comparison. There’s stuff in here that’s arguably even scarier than anything we’ve seen in the series so far, namely thanks to the introduction of the two little girls, especially the one in particular who has a special “connection” with the demon. Scenes of her **SPOILERS** running around the house at night, alone, back and forth along the hallway of the main bedroom, her form only visible for a moment through a small slit where the door is left partly open, **END SPOILERS** are downright unnerving. Creepy, creepy stuff. She’s also a convincing actress, as are all the people in this, really, though the mother here seemed a little too young and pretty to be believable. But the two little girls are outstanding, especially in the second half. They are the reason the film is as scary as it is. That and the clever use of camera set-ups and angles and stuff. You know, series staples.

Overall, the film scared the crap out of me. Sure, the story is kind of silly, and the film loses a tiny bit of steam at the end of the second act, though it’s the quiet before the storm in a way given how it ends. And yeah, one could argue that the main character here is stupid for not doing anything significant with all the footage he has of what’s clearly a malevolent supernatural entity stalking his family, or question why his coworker, who is the only other person in the film who has seen the footage and believes him, decides to nonetheless **SPOILERS** provoke said evil entity into attacking him by getting into a dark room and whispering “Bloody Mary” three times in a mirror. **END SPOILERS** Why play with fire? Why did the thing choose to attack, anyhow? It’s not like he was purposely teasing it or anything. Did it simply not like the game? Oh, and the use of CGI at times was also kind of stupid. Luckily, it’s kept to a minimum.

Anyway, stupidity aside, the film is pretty good. Nothing deep or meaningful of course, but scary, very scary. Strongly recommended if you enjoy being scared senseless, and witless too given its lack of logic.

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