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Paranormal Activity 3(2011)
The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise continues with this third outing from Paramount Pictures.
For more about Paranormal Activity 3 and the Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray release, see Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 13, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicholas Smith
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
» See full cast & crew
Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray Review
More of the same.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 13, 2012
It feeds off your fear.
There's something to be said for cinematic symmetry, which the Paranormal Activity series definitely has going for it. Rather than take the 1980s Horror formula of simply plopping random, interchangeable characters into the middle of the same old story that serves only to give each successive movie a different cast roster from its predecessors, Paranormal Activity nobly attempts to weave together a cohesive, singular tale that, with the release of this third entry, cycles all the way back to the beginning, featuring the main characters from the first two films as small children. Unfortunately, "symmetry" also means that the series falls into the trap of recycling the same formula that was rather effective when it was new, but has since grown very old, very fast. Audiences will see the same thing in Paranormal Activity 3 that they saw in the first two entries. The specific plot elements are different, but the technique, visual presentation, and cadence are all but indistinguishable from the others. It plays both sides of the coin, one shiny and pretty -- the one that insists on the good kind of symmetry -- the other tarnished and unimpressive, that side the embracing of the boring repetitiveness that's all but sunk the franchise.
It's March 2005 in Carlsbad, California. Katie (Katie Featherston) brings her sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) a box full of VHS tapes from their childhood. Months later, the tapes are stolen. Rewind to 1988. Julie (Lauren Bittner) is mother to two young girls, Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown). Her live-in boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) is a professional wedding videographer. Katie befriends an imaginary entity she calls "Toby." The adult couple thinks nothing of it, believing it be a little girl's imagination run amok. When Julie and Dennis attempt to make a sex video, they're interrupted by an earthquake. The camera catches dust falling onto an invisible shape, which prompts Dennis to set up cameras in key locations around the house in hopes of catching another glimpse of the mysterious entity. Each video reveals something new, something unexplainable, something dangerous. Meanwhile, Katie's relationship with Toby grows more complex, and video shows her maneuvering through the house at all hours of the night as she interacts with him. Is Katie's obsession just the workings of a young, developing mind? Are the tapes merely evidence of eerie but explainable occurrences? Or is there something more sinister working behind the scenes?
Despite its admirable -- and mostly successful, in a vacuum -- aim to further the telling of a complete, full-circle story, Paranormal Activity 3 loses much of its appeal because there's no longer a sense of mystery. All it does is cut to various cameras that mostly show still, darkened areas of the house. Of course there's the occasional moment where something is out of whack, but the movie feels like a monotonous chore rather than an unraveling mystery and/or the visualization of nightmarish terror. It's hard to create a truly frightening atmosphere when the audience knows what's coming, maybe not in an absolute sense, but certainly in a broader context. When there's a bump in the night, a door that slowly creeps open all on its own, a little girl crawling on a table or walking on a ledge, a ghostly figure behind the babysitter, or something out of place that was in its place moments before, it's not scary, it's just Paranormal Activity being Paranormal Activity. In fact, the same criticism from the last film holds true here, too: such events would no doubt be terrifying in real life, but in a movie of this style, not so much. The only sense of anticipation lies with when and where the next jump scare will come, and those are awfully predictable here, too. This saps the entire movie of its potential, because there's nothing that comes that the audiences cannot completely anticipate to happen ahead of time. Even the plot elements, which do reveal some new information, are mostly lost to the sheer repetitiveness of most every scene both in this movie and in the greater franchise as a whole.
On the plus side, the film runs rather short, even in its extended version, so there's not an absolute overload of similar content. The filmmakers are smart not to push the envelope too far in terms of showing the audience the same thing time and again, which at least gives the movie some semblance of a pace, even if much of it is merely still or, in the case of one makeshift camera, panning images. The older actors are fine, and capture the spirit of the series which is to say that they're rather obnoxious and oddly content to spend their entire lives with a camera in their hands (at least here the main videographer works in the business, which helps explain why everything must be filmed even before the start of the "activity"). However, it's the little girls who steal the show; Jessica Tyler Brown and Chloe Csengery in particular are surprisingly good and natural throughout, playing their parts with an eerie, realistic stride where they take the movie seriously but have fun and seem like real little kids, and not kids trying to be other kids. Their natural cadence allows the movie to play with a creepier vibe than was evident in the more adult-oriented first two outings, but even these very good performances can't overcome the movie's sheer repetitiveness and absence of true terror.
Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Paranormal Activity 3's 1080p Blu-ray transfer delivers the film's lesser "home video" picture quality for all it's worth. It actually looks quite a bit better than what it's supposed to be, which are VHS home recordings from the late 1980s. The image yields fairly nice colors. Balance is a bit off, but remains steady throughout, whether in the brighter interiors accented by natural daylight or in darkened shots where only a slight light source brightens up an otherwise predominantly blue-saturated screen. Shadow detail and blacks struggle to keep up, but that's to be expected. Detail is equally troubled but effective in context. The textures on things like denim jackets and kitchen titles are fine, though certainly not amongst Blu-ray's better examples of crisp resolution and lifelike details. Lower light scenes do reveal some blocking, but there are surprisingly few artifacts and instabilities or general wear-and-tear, which is good for one's pure visual enjoyment of the material yet bad for authenticity's sake. Overall, the image is hardly a work of high definition art, but it does remain true to filmmaker intent, which is most important in crafting a strong high definition transfer.
Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Paranormal Activity 3's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is quite effective. Although what is often dynamic sound seems to go against the entire principle of the thing -- this is supposed to be a ragged VHS tape with low-grade sound -- the overall effect is positive. The entire track enjoys fine spacing, evident whether during a loud outside birthday party or in the more hushed, anticipatory moments where slight hums or rumbles tend to define the moment. Discrete effects are strong, with various sound effects enjoying precision placement around the stage, effectively placing the listener inside the house and bumping the manufactured fear factor by a notch or two. The low end delivers consistently throughout, whether during a rattly earthquake as heard -- and felt -- in chapter three, or in the various haunting rumbles that are spread here and there during the movie. The very bottom tends to loosen up and devolve into a series of vibrations and rattles rather than remaining tight and true. The surround channels help in the general atmosphere and deliver some good natural ambience, such as a thunderstorm heard in chapter ten. Dialogue is steady and accurate, remaining planted in the center channel. This is a quality soundtrack and the highlight of this release.
Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Paranormal Activity 3's Blu-ray release is sparse, as was the case with its predecessors. This package does contain both the film's theatrical cut (1:24:08) and its extended version (1:33:59).
Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Paranormal Activity 3 might shed some more light on the running story, but it still favors the same dark nighttime static shots that define the series. Kudos for advancing a real plot in a Horror franchise, but thumbs down to a lack of stylistic vision. The movie suffers because audiences know exactly the kind of thing that's coming, which indeed holds true for many Horror pictures, but this series doesn't even try to shake things up, instead content to stay with the same exact format that's quickly grown stale. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Paranormal Activity 3 features video that's as good as the style allows, a quality lossless soundtrack, and no extras of value. Rent it.
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Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Paranormal Activity 3 - January 19, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of the Unrated Director's Cut of Paranormal Activity 3. The third entry in the franchise is set to haunt store shelves on January 24th.
• Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray - December 20, 2011
Next year, Paramount Home Entertainment will bring Paranormal Activity 3 to Blu-ray. Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), this installment in the horror franchise examines footage from 1988 that reveals the beginning of the supernatural disturbances ...
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