DIR: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman • WRI: Christopher B. Landon • PRO: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider • DOP: Magdalena Gorka Bonacorso • ED: Gregory Plotkin • DES: Jennifer Spence• CAST: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith

Jumping back to 1988, the third entry in this hugely successful franchise tells the origins of the ghost story, and by doing so robs the film of some tension (we know these girls don’t die, as we see them all growed up and scared in the earlier movies), but ratchets it up in other ways by successfully toying with the well-oiled formula of the series.

Young Katie (from part one) and Kristi (part two) have moved into a new house with their mom Julie and their loving stepdad Dennis. It’s not long before the new house is creaking and moaning, and Dennis sets up some cameras in the bedrooms, and one attached to an oscillating fan which pans back and forth with purposeful dread between the bright kitchen and the dim sitting room. Soon we’re catching glimpses of shadows, slamming doors, falling lights and hearing whispers and the ever present bass when we know there is something bad about to happen.

Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost brought us last year’s ‘Is this for real?’ hit documentary Catfish, and turn out to be inspired choices to helm this horror, getting fantastic performances from all involved, and conjuring up a torturous amount of tension from the scary scenes, as well as relieving said tension with the well placed scenes of levity.

For some, the ending may spoil the mystique of the movie, and perhaps the entire series, as it finally puts a ‘face’ to the horror, but it cannot be accused of merely retreading the same tired story, a la the Saw and Hostel sequels, and the series should still be applauded for it’s predominance of psychological horror over violence and gore. If this is the last in the franchise, they’ve ended on a high note.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Paranormal Activity 3 is released on 21st October 2011


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