Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Talk about a solid business model. I know the other studios are probably firing executives left and right because they didn’t have the foresight of thought to pick up the first ‘Paranormal Activity’. Think about these things for a minute. The movies cost next to nothing to make, they are completely devoid of expensive star power, and you wouldn’t even want star power because it destroys the illusion, and most importantly ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies are almost a license to print money. This time around ‘Paranormal Activity’ goes back to the past to hang out with Kristi’s and Katie’s mom, who by chance has a boyfriend who obnoxiously carries his video camera around everywhere and tapes everything. Simply by chance. Go figure. Since we’re also introduced to Katie and Kristi’s granny this time around I imagine in ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ we’ll go further back in the past to hang out with granny and her husband with his Super 8 video camera. This will probably keep going until we get to ‘Paranormal Activity 18’ which will highlight the cave drawings of some poor Caveman wondering who is mystically moving his daughter’s rocks in his cave dwelling.

So we know that Katie and Kristie have this mystical thing that likes to follow them around, cause a ruckus and kill and stuff. But where did it all start? Hmmm…

The year is 1980 something, and we get to meet Katie and Kristie’s hot mom Julie (Laurie Bittner) and her live in love Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). Katie looks to be about eight, and I guess Kristi is around five and they are a couple of happy little girls. Sure Kristie has an imaginary friend named Toby who is always hanging around, but she’s five and all five year olds have imaginary friends… who like the taste of BLOOD! Okay, not really, but I bet its coming.

Naturally there are some things that go bump in the night, and Dennis, who is a videographer, decides to set up his cameras all over the house to see what he can see. While the whole ‘Paranormal Activity’ my Husband / Boyfriend /SO is obnoxious with his video camera is pretty tired, the way this particular family came about using the camera is actually kind of fresh. Anyway, as you probably imagine the camera doesn’t catch much of anything except people sleeping, but by the time the babysitter comes

around, stuff starts getting a little weird. Note that the babysitter will probably opt out of any future gigs for these cute little girls. Dennis would like to let Julie know about the weird stuff his camera is recording, but she’d just freak out and make him take down the cameras. We can’t have that, now can we?

Then when they had Dennis’ video assistant Randy (Dustin Ingram) do some spot babysitting duty, and considering what went down that particular evening, followed by Julie suffering a close call and becoming a instant believer, it’s time to get the hell out of there and run off to Granny’s (Hallie Foote).

But we ‘Paranormal Activity’ veterans know that the house isn’t the problem don’t we? If only we could just leave the house and leave our murderous apparitions behind. At least now we know why this is happening. Kind of. In a way. Not really when you think about it. Old ladies are scary.

Personally, I thought the first ‘Paranormal Activity’ was extremely effective at what it set out to do. Gimmicky maybe, but effective. ‘Paranormal Activity 2’… not so much. It didn’t improve upon the gimmick and it took forever for anything to start happening as we were trapped watching the mundane goings on in these people’s lives. The ending was great however. This edition, while not quite as enjoyable as the first, is better than the second in almost every way, except for maybe the conclusion. I might not have like that movie all that much, but the ending was really good.

In ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ it feels as if a lot more thought was put into this one to change things around a bit. Yes, the concept is essentially the exact same as the first two, but directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman found a way to make this concept feel a lot fresher this time around. It certainly helps that there is more action in this edition, as we spent far less time looking at people sleep and talk about next to nothing. It also helps that the actors, particularly the children, were on top of their games. I particularly liked Dustin Ingram’s character as the scared video assistant, as he pretty much behaved exactly as you would expect someone in his situation to behave when faced with what he was dealing with.

There’s a little more exposition this time around, not a lot mind you since this exposition took all of about one minute, but it is something, and while I don’t recall anybody in the audience recoiling in terrorizing fear like the people in the television commercial for this movie… I mean they were seriously carrying on in those TV ads… the movie did have a few choice spooky moments which did have a sissy or two in the audience I was sitting amongst letting out little yelps here and there. Sissies.

Admittedly, part of the fun of these ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies is waiting to see how the minds behind it are going to rehash the same thing over and over again, which is why we will be waiting for ‘Paranormal Activity 4’ with baited breath. Unless, of course, there won’t be one. Which is crazy talk. Hopefully with the next one the filmmakers can keep raising the bar, just as they did with the surprisingly effective and much improved ‘Paranormal Activity 3’.

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