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Paranormal Activity 3 (Blu-ray Review)

The low budget juggernaut phenomena that took the horror film world by storm just two years ago has returned with part 3 in the uber successful franchise known as Paranormal Activity – this is part 3 of the franchise. What separates this chapter from the previous installments is that it’s a prequel. This chapter will fill you in on how it all started. Paranormal Activity takes place in the late 80’s and as if that wasn’t scary enough, the journey is all captured on gigantic shoulder mounted consumer camcorders. I know we all remember those, right? Alright, so turn off the lights, if you dare, and don’t forget to program your VCR, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. This is Paranormal Activity 3. Enjoy! 

 

Film 

Since you already knew it was coming, the third film in the extremely successful Paranormal Activity franchise, you really didn’t need much warning. It was going to happen and its half a billion dollar box office take would assure more films were made. Paranormal Activity 3 is a departure of sorts, because its actually a prequel to the first films. Paranormal Activity 3 takes place in 1988 and focuses on sisters Katie and Kristie. Katie and Kristie live with their mother Julie, and her boyfriend Dennis.

Dennis spends his days and nights editing wedding video footage in Julie’s garage. Julie spends her days and nights doing I don’t know what. Its never clear what she does for a living. Either that or I really didn’t care, because it was probably something boring. The girls are girls, so we spend time following them around as they play in the backyard, their rooms, etc.

Evil forces start up when Julie and Dennis are about to make a sex tape. A violent earthquake shakes them and the house about while the camera is left running. It’s in reviewing the tape that Dennis notices paint dust fall and land on what appears to be an invisible figure. The figure shakes off the dust and leaves the room. Dennis’ friend Randy tells him that he should set up more cameras around the house to capture these strange occurrences. Dennis obliges. On a separate note, Randy is one of these guys who sees the evidence for himself, but refuses to believe in it.

Days go by and the cameras capture lots of creepy stuff like the youngest girl, Kristi, running back and forth as if playing cat and mouse with an invisible entity of some kind. She seems to have a new imaginary friend named Toby. She and Toby spend a lot of time together. Julie, Deenis, and Katie tell Kristi that she needs to act like a big girl and stop playing with invisible friends. Hijinx ensue.

Next come the various reasons why the films aren’t really that great to begin with. Well, first let me say that I admired the original Paranormal Activity film due to it costing only $15,000 and making $200,000,000 at the box office. That’s a dream come true for any aspiring filmmaker and we need more of these films (various genres) to be released. I love that. Of course, with the massive success of the first film comes the eventual creation of a new horror franchise where the mythology has to made up as it goes along. The budgets get bigger even though the latter films don’t necessarily look any different than the first film. Yes, they made tons more money, but the acting or what’s supposedly faux acting is horrible. Part one used The Blair Witch Project blue print and exploited the “found footage” scenario which made it popular again as you can see by the crop of found footage films hitting cinemas in record numbers. Part 2 and 3 seemed to have ditched that concept altogether. They don’t feel as real as the first film did and the first film tried really hard to be authentic and got away with some of it.

I watched the theatrical cut and unrated cut of Paranormal Activity 3 and really couldn’t tell them apart. The theatrical cut runs 83 minutes long and the Unrated cut runs 93 minutes. I’m usually a fan of unrated films, but I couldn’t really tell you what the difference were, and that’s a whopping ten minutes of extra footage in the unrated cut. There are quite a bit of jump scares in the film, but I will let you in on how to spot them. If you have a powered subwoofer it will turn on at just the right moments before a scare. The bass will begin to rumble, and you know it will be on.

They also need to stop making supposed real life films where the evidence is clearly stated and presented and the adults storm off not wanting to see the evidence before them. If it were real life and I had something to show you that could probably save your life and you walked away from me while I tried to save you then I would probably have to drag you back and make you see the monsters for yourself. It’s lazy writing, so enough of the whole, “I don’t want to see what you have to show me even though it may probably save my life!” *DOOR SLAM* This is why people yell at the screen at the movie theater. 😉

I know there’s a fourth film due out by the end of this year, so here’s hoping that this sequel fares better than these three films in terms of storytelling. Fourth time is the charm right? Right?

Video  

Paranormal Activity 3 is presented in 108op, and let me tell ya, VHS quality has never looked so good! Seriously, for a format whose maximum resolution reached up to 24o lines, the Blu-ray makes the supposed shot on a huge shoulder mounted camcorder look like 3-D. Okay, I jest, but will say that even though Paranormal Activity 3 was not shot on actual VHS camcorders, but the way the filmmakers shot it gives it a bit of room to breathe. It doesn’t look life shattering, but does look somewhat genuine for the time. Blu-ray brings out what the VHS quality looked like in the late 80’s. Blacks generally crush, contrast is boosted, color bands somewhat and is also washed out a bit. Softness is ever present and detail is anything but sharp. Yes, normally these things would bury a Blu-ray’s video rating, but since that’s the aesthetic the filmmakers were going for it gets a neutral rating, or as neutral of a rating as it can get.

Audio 

Paranormal Activity 3 is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Again, lossless sound in the late 80’s? Well, yeah! It’s gotta match the video presentation a little, right? In that, it succeeds. Paranormal Activity 3 is primarily dialogue driven, but when instances of demonic mischief present themselves, the you know what, hits the fan. Surround channels get a massive workout as the does the LFE subwoofer channel. You can even feel the LFE power up when something with some low level bass is about to shake the house. I will say that in the case of the Paranormal Activity films, the sound is the best thing about the films. Depending on how YOU feel about the films

Special Features 

Since the film franchise still tries to play the angle of “found footage,” the special features included really can’t be called special features at all. It’s “evidence.” At least that’s how it seemed to me.

  • Theatrical Cut
  • Unrated Director’s Cut
  • Scare Montage
  • Dennis’ Commercial

Final Thoughts 

Yes, Paranormal Activity 3 does have some very effective scares and a few scenes are creepy to the extreme, but that doesn’t save the film from having boring adult characters. Why should I have been made to care about these grown ups? The kids were more interesting, and so was the demonic force torturing them. Those were the films biggest strengths. There will be a fourth film in the series which will probably take place after the events in part 2, so here’s hoping that there are  more monsters than people in that one.

 

 

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

9 Responses to “Paranormal Activity 3 (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I would agree that the first one is still the best (which I like and admire because of it being a solid horror flick, regardless of the money it made), but I think the best/worst aspect of 3 is how cleverly put together it is on a filmmaking level. It doesn’t really try to present itself as “real”, which is obvious since it’s number 3, but that allows Schulman and Joost to come up with some neat ideas for scares, despite this flick looking way too good to have come from 80s VHS tapes.

    I’m looking forward to part 4, since these two are involved again and I’m still interested in the mythology of the series, which is more than I can say for the ‘Saw’ series.

  2. Brian White

    I agree with Aaron on everything except his Saw comment.

  3. Matt Goodman

    I agree w/ the review Gerard. I liked the first, but it got old from then on. The only “cool” scene in this was the kitchen part.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    I don’t think the first film was anything special, because I kept thinking to myself that it looked great for a $15,000 film.

    It should have stayed consistent to the first film, because that’s the way the original one was marketed it as even though it was fake. 2 and 3 are inconsistent in terms of marketing.

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Ive puposefully avoided trailers for each one, before they came out.

    So they should have attempted to lie to audiences about it being “real” in their marketing, even though it’s obvious to the point of idiocy that a whole franchise of these movies that aren’t real, but in fact movies? Didn’t seem to make a difference for audiences, they keep making money

  6. Gerard Iribe

    No, they should have just stopped making them after the first one.

  7. Grant

    Lame review. PA3 was almost as good as the 1st. You are just another jaded blogger who thinks they know everything about movies.

  8. Gregg

    Couldn’t agree more with your ‘final thoughts’, Gerard. The first one was absolutely rock star. Though the second has its critics, I really enjoyed that one too. The third one was too much though and gave me a headache. Of course, being a fan of the first two, I will jump in head first for the fourth installment when it hits theaters.

  9. Gerard Iribe

    Grant, I respect your opinion. Opinions make the world go ’round. Thanks for reading!