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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

     As you may know by now, I'm a huge fan of the "Paranormal Activity" movies.  I think they are brilliant, and I love it that they are made so cheap, yet make so much money.  These movies are, at least to me anyway, far more entertaining than your usual, big-budget horror movie.  So as everybody knows by now, the third installment of the hugely successful "Paranormal" franchise is upon us, just in time for our Halloween viewing.  Last night, we attended a 7:20 screening, and like the last one, it was pretty much packed.  The crowd was super psyched, and the movie delivered 100% on what it was supposed to do.  Scare the living shit out of every damn person in the place.

         This time we venture even further back into the mysterious past of sisters Katie and Kristi.  Set in 1988, this installment tells of how the young girls meet Toby, an entity living in their California home.  It opens with a scene of Katie and Kristi as adult sisters from the sequel, and Katie is dropping some boxes off at Kristie's new home.  The boxes contain a lot of Grandma's stuff, including lots of VHS tapes.  We then get to dive right into the tapes, which is footage of the girls' parents, trying to figure out the mysterious things happening in their home back in the 80s.  The mother of young Katie and Kristi, Julie, has a new man, Dennis, who just happens to specialize in filming weddings and video equipment.  Disturbed by the strange disturbances, and with Kristi suddenly talking to "Toby" and insisting he's real, Dennis decides to have three cameras going non-stop at night, determined to catch some evidence of what he thinks is going on in the house.

     This movie rocked, and most definitely lived up to my expectations.  I honestly think they keep getting better, and it's usually the other way around.  This one was a perfect movie to watch this time of the year.  It's got clever and scary homages to "Halloween" and "Poltergeist" sprinkled thoughout, and the brilliant introduction of witchcraft to the series was most definitely an inspired touch.  This was supremely scary stuff.  I know these movies are usually classified as one of those films that simply scaring you by jumping out and shrieking BOO! loudly.  And to be fair, the entire audience jumped quite a few times last night.  But what some don't understand about the "Paranormal" movies is that they slowly and surely builds up the tension and suspense, and then stretches them out almost to the point of being unbearable.  So those loud "jumps" are almost necessary, because they're simply a relief from the tension.  You sit on the edge of your seat, jump, scream, and laugh.  And then suddenly the tension sets in again and you repeat the process.  Yes, these movies are cheaply done, but they don't rely on cheap scares, if you know what I mean.  I'm not exaggerating here.  This movie was definitely scary.  And those last ten minutes were extremely frightening.  I still get chills thinking about it- when you see it, you'll know what I mean.

     I think these films work simply because every single one of us at some time or another have been lying  in our beds shivering and terrified- afraid of the dark, afraid of what's outside our window, in our closet or under our beds.  We've all been spooked by noises in the night, or the feeling of being watched.  We can all relate to the "Paranormal" movies, as simple as they are.  We relate to them on a purely subconscious level.  They take us back to childhood.  That's what I love about them.  They're like the modern day "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th"- tales to be told around a campfire under the stars, or in a tent in the backyard with a flashlight held up under our faces.  It doesn't matter that they are simple or cheaply made.  They simply exist to scare, and do so beautifully.

     "Paranormal Activity 3" has already opened to strong box-office numbers, and of course, they left it open for another sequel.  Normally, I would be groaning at the discovery of a seemingly endless string of anemic sequels that tarnish the good name of the original. "Halloween" again, anyone?  But like I said, these movies are different, as they actually keep getting better instead of worse, and more inventive each time as well.  And watching the third last night only made me want to go back and watch the first two all over again.  It's a love/hate kind of movie, a lot like "The Blair Witch Project", which we can either thank or curse for these kinds of movies now. Although my audience last night loved every damn minute of this film.  In fact, we were all a group as one, completely immersed in the experience, and laughing and giggling at each other for being so freaked out.  It was awesome!

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