Sunday, October 23, 2011

10-22-11: Poltergeist IV

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011) ** D: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman. Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Dustin Ingram.

In the late 1980s, a family finds themselves at the mercy of a benevolent entity that has a fixation on the youngest daughter.

In this prequel to the hit sensations "Paranormal Activity" and "Paranormal Activity 2" the hows and whys of all the supernatural events that occurred in those films are revealed.

The film suffers from many problems. Like the Star Wars prequels where fans had in their minds what it would be like, the first two "Paranormal" films left seeds of what happened in the past but the answers, or at least those alluded to, are underwhelming. I suspected that's where it was heading but it failed to deliver on the scare quotient. Compared to the previous endings, this one went out with a whimper.

The scenes where characters carry the camera around felt more stagey then anything. It was like they were going for that "Blair Witch" vibe of the finale but now it's too familiar a set up that it lacks any suspense.

This film has more akin with "Poltergeist" then the "Paranormal" franchise. I kept getting the feeling of deja vu waiting for them to show me something new but they never delivered.

There were a few things that I did like that Joost and Schulman brought to the film. Gone is the low base score that was heard when a scare was coming. I really felt that that took away from really jolting the audience because they knew it was coming. Here, the events happen but you have to be looking for them.

This is the most self-aware film in the series. They know you're looking the scare and take the opportunity to zing you with false scares.

Finally, the best innovation was the fan-cam. The camera is placed on the base of a fan and slowly pans left to right. As it moves back and forth you catch a glimpse of something and you are left at the mercy of the camera to see what's next.

For me, this entry didn't live up to the others. There wasn't a single moment that really gave me the creeps, a few I thought was cool but overall it just wasn't scary enough. I'll always remember the scene in "2" where Katie is dragged helplessly from the upstairs into the basement. I'll always remember the scene in "1" where Kate is dragged from the bedroom and Micah couldn't do a thing. There was nothing like that in this one.

This franchise is starting to give up the ghost.

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