Paranormal Activity 3 – Review by Susan Granger

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Since this is a horror prequel to a horror prequel, let’s call it a horror threquel. Time traveling back to 1988, it reveals how sisters Katie and Kristi Rey were traumatized at an early age by ominous, supernatural occurrences.

Beginning in the summer of 2006, just prior to the events of the previous two films, now-adult sisters Katie (Katie Featherston) and pregnant Kristi (Sprague Graydon) discover a stash of old family VHS tapes from their recently deceased grandmother’s (Hallie Foote) house, one of which is labeled “Summer, 1988,” as the ‘found footage’ flashback begins.

Celebrating a birthday party, young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and young Kristi Rey (Jessica Tyler Brown) are living with their mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner), and her partner, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), a wedding videographer, and curious about the inexplicable sounds emanating from their new home in Santa Rosa, California.

“It’s a new house; it shouldn’t be making these noises,” Dennis grumbles. So he sets up surveillance cameras in the bedrooms, kitchen and living room which chronicle the family’s daily activities, complete with Teddy Ruxpin and Lite-Brites, along with those mysterious nighttime disturbances. But Kristi has this imaginary friend Toby. There are phantom footsteps, doors open and close, and the toy closet contains demonic spirits. Then there’s that fateful game of “Bloody Mary” in the bathroom.

Terrified and tormented by otherworldly ghosts, sisters Katie and Kristi are creepily cursed by a deeply evil force.

Working from a formulaic, infuriatingly illogical script by Christopher B. Landon (co-writer of “Paranormal Activity 2), co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (creators of the pseudo-documentary “Catfish”) amplify the repetitive mythology, effectively prolonging the suspense, leaving much to the viewer’s imagination, particularly as a camera mounted on a disassembled swiveling fan base reveals weirdly different things each time the fan rotates from the kitchen to the living room and back.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paranormal Activity 3” escalates to a spooky, scary 7, especially for Halloween. It’s more unnerving and sinister this time ‘round, as the low-budget/ high-payoff franchise continues.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.