Paranormal Activity 3 is neither as genuinely chilling as the first film, nor does it pack as many cheap thrills as the second one did. A few jolts aside, this is largely a disappointment.
The film is essentially a prequel, backtracking all the way to 1988 to reveal what it is exactly that’s been haunting sisters Katie and Kristi, who we met in the previous films as adults. In this film, they’re little girls living with their mother and her boyfriend, and possibly an otherworldly presence. When the man of the house becomes concerned about odd sounds and movements in the night, he places a camera in the girls’ room, one in the bedroom he shares with their mother, and a third on a table fan that pans between the kitchen and the living room.
To be fair, many of the same tricks from the previous films are repeated this time too: doors open and shut on their own, lights go on and off, strange reflections appear in the mirror, and dark figures appear in the hallway. These very happenings spooked us when we watched them for in the first time in the 2007 film, but now these feel like sloppy seconds…and thirds.
The best thrill in Paranormal Activity 3 is delivered late in the story, and involves the mother of these girls who has been so far disregarding her daughters’ and her boyfriend’s concerns. She leaves the kitchen to go into the living room area, and returns almost instantly to find the kitchen suddenly threadbare – no furniture, no utensils. I won’t tell you what happens next.
Much of this film involves just waiting around for something to happen. It’s a long, tiring wait. I’m going with two out of five for Paranormal Activity 3. There’s no novelty left in this idea; I was bored, and chances are you will be too.