Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Dustin Ingram, Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Brian Boland, Mark Fredrichs
Written by: Christopher B. Landon, based on characters created by Oren Peli
Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
MPAA Rating: R for some violence, language, brief sexuality and drug use
Running Time: 85
Date: 10/14/2011

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Demon Seeds

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the minds behind the quasi-documentary Catfish, take over as directors on this third entry, but remain true to the series style. Wide, unmoving images from surveillance cameras provide endless dread and suspense, never indicating just where the next shock is going to come from. The movie's most ingenious invention is a moving camera, mounted on an electric fan base; as it moves mechanically back and forth, important information moves helplessly, automatically out of frame, and viewers must wait anxiously to see more.

In a quick prologue, in 2005, Katie (Katie Featherston) drops a box of old videotapes to be stored in her sister Kristi's basement. The content on these tapes consists of young Katie (the main character of Paranormal Activity) and Kristi (the main character of Paranormal Activity 2) in 1988. The girls live with their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and Julie's loving boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). Kristi begins spending time with a sinister-sounding "imaginary friend," Toby, and strange, terrifying things begin happening in the house. Dennis starts to videotape everything, but is anyone really prepared for the true horror behind it all?

The sequel continues the broken/mixed family dynamic of the previous two films, but the characters here are more sharply drawn and more sympathetic; this family has a more loving feel. The main drawback is the plot. Still somewhat ambiguous, it tries to explain everything and conclude the series. But that conclusion is a bit unsatisfying, more like a whimper than a bang. Overall, though, the movie definitely provides strong chills.

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