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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (BLU RAY)
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Starring:
Chloe Csengery
Jessica Tyler Brown
Christopher Nicholas Smith

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Hook up with this prequel, where we go back to 1988 to find Katie and Kristi (her sister) living in their Mom's spooky house where Kristi seems to be having a relationship with an entity known only as Toby. Filmed spooky hijiinks ensue.
Is it good movie?
I know it's very cool to hate popular franchises these days , and while I consider myself as much of a cynical idiot as the next guy, I also know when to STFU and recognize that just because something's  a sequel or considered 'cool' doesn't mean it has to suck.

When the first Paranormal Activity flick came out, I gobbled it up for the most part. I think that the premise of something invading your home (especially a ghost) is really scary, and the first 3/4 of that movie had me squirming in my seat. It was far more about what you didn't see or thought you heard than what you saw, and although there were near game-breaking parts for me, I dug the flick.

The sequel was a different story though- I really hate that movie. I don't find it scary, I find it really goofy and bizarrely funny. The magic was gone from this one and the whole thing felt like a quick cash-in that just turned up the volume but had almost no plot to speak of. I felt it drug along tediously and the payoff wasn't enough.

So, I went into this one thinking there was a 50/50 shot, but I really had a sour taste in my mouth from the last film. I'm pleased to report that I think this entry is far and away the best in the series, and makes just about perfect use of the formula and premise this movie puts forth.

These movies aren't overly difficult to make, in my opinion. Each time I watch one, I think about how if I were given the budget, I could make a super scary edition that people would dig. I think it takes good "camera's going to move and something scary will pop into frame" moments and believable actors, with little else being necessary. Luckily, they got all of these things right in this sequel.

The movie doesn't waste a lot of time and follows a pretty basic formula that won't shock you. Mom is  the loving Mom and then there's the stepdad of sorts, in Chris Smith's Dennis. The littlest girl Kristi clearly has an imaginary friend, and Katie is sort of the girl who wishes she got a bit more attention as the older sister.

What I really liked about this is that Kristi doesn't treat Toby like he's scary, nor does she treat him like he's a good pal. She treats him like he's in the house, willing to talk to her and wants something from her. She isn't scared, and as the film goes on, she grows more frustrated with him and basically warns other people not to touch him or upset him in any way. I think this was a brilliant move, because it makes things strangely more believable.

It really helps that the acting in this film is really top notch. I know that might sound stupid to say, but I totally bought into the characters here and was especially impressed by both little girls who came off really believable. I think that the home movie style really hides some imperfections, but the flick really felt like a lame old home movie sometimes and this was captured really well. On top of that, the family is actually functional. They love each other and there isn't a major conflict that's threatening to tear them up. Unlike in the first film, the couple really gets along. This helps. There's also some funny scenes in there to break up the monotony- I enjoyed watching the Dustin Ingram, who played Dennis' assistant Randy. Dude did a great job.

Sure, you could complain about the fact that it's all caught on film but they do make good by making Dennis' character into a wedding videographer with lots of equipment, so I bought it. My only real question in this flick was wondering how the hell Dennis and Julie lived in such a beautiful home, given that we know nothing about what she does and he clearly isn't rolling in it- but I digress.

The scares are plentiful here, and admittedly some of them are pretty cheap. When I saw this in theaters, I got a few jolts. When watching at home, I found myself shouting out loud a few times at some of those damn "boo" moments. Now, some of them are clearly lame and thrown in to scare you (babysitter, closet) but some of them are pretty well done (I liked the kitchen scene and the Bloody Mary stuff was awesome), and the fan-cam was genius for building tension.

I know that the ending of the film is going to divide audiences, but I bought it as a decent explanation for what was going on. Hey, they had to give it something and at least they built towards it when doing some research through the film. If you don't like being tense and on the edge of your seat, you certainly shouldn't watch this flick.

With that said, if you like the idea of "real ghosts" caught on tape, this is a great frightfest that in my opinion actually adds to mainstream horror. Sure, it can't be taken seriously but it unquestionably succeeds in setting out to make you jump.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen in 1080p. It looks exactly like a crappy VHS home movie from the 80s. Hard to really be impressed, but that's what they were going for.

Audio comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it doesn't really impress. It sports some booming bass when the scenes are right, but the mix isn't overly impressive
The Extras
You get three minutes of Lost Tapes, which feature Dennis scaring his lady a few times on purpose. A really strange inclusion, in one of the scenes his wife walks in the front door of the home and you can clearly see the soundstage behind her. Bizarre.

Other than that, you get a DVD copy of the film. You can also choose to watch the Extended Cut which is ten minutes longer. I saw both versions but couldn't really tell you much difference between the two.
Last Call
It isn't a great blu-ray package, this I'll admit. Nor do I think that it breaks much new ground, or offers a lot of substance. However, I didn't think this franchise could bounce back with any oomph after the last film. if you're looking for a movie that'll startle you to no end (and mix in a heavy dose of creepy), this one will fit the bill. Sure, it isn't gut-wrenchingly scary but if you hate jumping out of your skin, you'll want to avoid this one. The wrong people will end up seeing it and could be sleeping with the light on for a long time!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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