Paranormal Activity 3 continues the spooky thrills in its exploration of a secular family haunted by evil.
It is rare to find a horror franchise which has sustained itself as well as the Paranormal Activity series. Whether due to its low key found footage approach or the power of scaring people with forces unseen, Paranormal Activity has yet to spend its simplistic formula of camera-person-scare-repeat.
A key factor is that every film reveals a new surprise in the origin of this American haunting, with this third entry going back to the retro era of 1988 where tormented sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) live out their childhood with single mum Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her de facto partner Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith).
When strange occurrences happen about their middle class abode, Dennis used his resources as a videographer (that is VHS) and sets up cameras around the house in order to catch the poltergeist in action. As fans of the horror series know, he finds much more than expected.
Paranormal Activity 3 is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the filmmakers behind last year’s superb and controversial documentary Catfish. The duo do a great job in not messing with the formula, while also adding new elements in character development and new ways to scare audiences, with a game of “Bloody Mary” and one (literally) hair raising scene, highlights.
Yet most important- and it is an element nearly all critics have missed – is its depiction of what happens when religion is removed from a demonic possession movie. Religion (usually of Christian denomination) is a vital component to these films, as it provides the force of good to battle the scourge of demonic infestation. Its absence from the Paranormal Activity series is shown accordingly, with evil always prevailing.
Not to say that there is a religious agenda which lies beneath the Paranormal Activity series. But as that granddaddy of all demonic movies The Exorcist proves, only the power of Christ can save.
So come Paranormal Activity 4, perhaps it’s time someone called a priest to battle this wicked scourge.