You know what I love about the "Paranormal Activity" franchise? When I left my 10 p.m. opening night sceening of PA3, there was a line of people waiting to get in the theater. They all stared me up and down.
To see how wrecked I was.
People all across America are lined up hoping to lose sleep. The movies are low budget, which means little money for poorly CG'd monsters. Instead, the audience quietly curls up into little balls hoping something will send them to the roof. "Paranormal Activity" proves the waiting is the best part.
I can't remember a franchise that was this predictable, yet gave me so many chills and masterful jump scares without deafening me with shrieking violins and screaming cats bolting from bushes.
I just love the thrill that comes from watching these films with a packed house. I know there are many of you out there who don't get this same feeling, and that's too bad. Because this is just too much fun.
Five paragraphs and I haven't mentioned anything specific about the movie. It's best you know as little as possible, but here goes....
A prequel to a prequel - we see sisters Katie (original PA) and Kristi (PA 2) as young girls. They're living with their mother and her new boyfriend, Dennis. He's a wedding videographer, which works out perfectly for us. The guy carries a camera everywhere.
When he starts hearing creepy noises in their new home, he does what every doomed man in this franchise would do - he sets up cameras all over the house. This would lead to a hefty VHS bill in the late 80s.
Things escalate at their typical pace. We learn that Kristi has an invisible friend named Toby. He's not interested in tea. Dennis starts to pick up more and more activity on tape, and his interest in this Toby character grows.
The film is directed by "Catfish" creators Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. If you saw that film, about their real-life (?) quest to find love online that takes a very dark turn, you know they're the perfect pair to keep "Paranormal's" realism factor.
The series continues to master the "jump scare" gimmick. There is one very simple scare that sucked the breath out of my theater. Another features a kitchen and an oscilating fan-cam. It's a direct nod to "Poltergeist," and it had me grinning from ear to ear. I'm hoping someday they'll pull back the curtain on this franchise and reveal some of their tricks.
We're also treated to the best ending to a "Paranormal" movie yet. In 15 minutes, Joost and Schulman wrap in everything to love about this franchise - suspense, jumps, creepiness, panic, confusion, even some revulsion.
But I'm starting to see that someday we'll hit the Toby recession, and this "Paranormal" thrill up my leg will be gone. Three-plus years of build up will have to lead to some kind of major fireworks show. Not sure this sequence was it, but it will be hard to top.
On another note, are we seriously going to believe that Dennis would continue to edit wedding videos at 1 a.m. after seeing some of the things he sees in this movie? Or that a friend would agree to come babysit one of these girls alone? And play Bloody Mary with her in a pitch black bathroom?!
But the mission is accomplished, because I can't wait for the next installment. There's much more new information I'd like to discuss, but it's impossible without ruining the movie. Let's just end by saying I'll have a certain series of images in my head everytime I hear that "to Grandmother's house we go" song this holiday season.
"Paranormal Activity 3" makes a strong case for being the best film of the trilogy. It earns a Leshock Value of $9 out of a possible $10.