Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

(On DVD, February 2017) Boldly stepping back in time, Paranormal Activity 3 takes the found-footage conceit to the VHS era, presenting the formative childhood experiences of the sisters at the heart of the first two movies. Not stepping too far away from the tried-and-true methodology of the series so far, this follow-up does have a few canny new tricks up its sleeve. While some are obvious (the moment the oscillating camera is set up is the moment when we can anticipate the shocks it will deliver), the expansion of the mythology is also interesting, even though by the time the story wraps up we’re starting to predict how none of the male characters will make it out of the movie alive. On the other hand, that finale is quite a bit more intense than the quick bursts of violence at the end of the first two movies, so it feels as if the series is getting more ambitious with time. There really isn’t much else to say here. As usual for a film of this series, the acting is fair at best (although Lauren Bittner is probably the strongest lead of the series so far), the cinematography is muddy and the pacing is predictable. Still, despite the well-worn mechanics of the series premise, Paranormal Activity 3 is not a waste of time, and holds up enough new things to keep it interesting.

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