Paranormal Activity is back for a third installment, and with any luck this will be its last. When the first one appeared way back in 2007, there was an air of excitement to the whole thing—is it real or not? Now, nearly five years later the Paranormal Activity franchise should be declared officially played out.
While the first two films take place in the present, this third film jumps to 1988. We meet Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown), as children, living with their mother (Lauren Bittner) and her new boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), who works as a wedding videographer. One night, as the adults are settling into to bed with the camera running! An apparent earthquake interrupts things. Upon reviewing the tape, dust is just floating around the room, as if it’s landing on an invisible figure. This is the start of a series of strange happenings in the household. Dennis rigs up cameras all over the house, and six hour tapes are inserted every night. What happens can’t be explained. Who is Kristi talking too late at night? Why is she walking around and doing strange things at night? Why is the furniture being moved? What just grabbed Katie and tried to drag her into a closet? Kristi insists it’s “Toby,” who everyone else assumes is her imaginary friend. Not so fast…
Christopher B. Landon (son of Michael Landon) co-writer of Paranormal Activity 2, gets sole credit for this one, has the team of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (of Catfish fame or infamy) directing his work. Unlike Catfish, there’s no question here about whether the footage is real, but Joost and Schulman’s experience with a story that blurred the line between reality and fiction, served them well here. They do a fine job executing the scares, a hallmark of the series. The problem is, there’s nothing here viewers of the franchise haven’t seen. So, while the scares are still present, unless the filmmakers come up with some genuinely unique creep outs this thing is played out.
This is one of those films that are designed to look pretty cruddy, and this 1.78:1, 1080p transfer delivers. We get the real feeling of videotapes (although the film was clearly shot in HD) throughout. Black levels are perfectly inaccurate, color accuracy is washed-out, and detail varies. Inconsistency is the name of the game here, and it works.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound mix is a simple one, but manages to deliver a creepy feel. Fidelity is understated except for some boomy low-end shakes. No complaints.
French, Spanish, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes are included, as are English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
We don’t get much in the way of special features, though the the film’s theatrical cut (1:24:08) and its extended version (1:33:59) are both included.
- Scare Montage (1080p, 2:15): Dennis scaring Julie.
- Dennis’ Commercial (1080p, 0:56): A commercial for Dennis’ business.
- Digital Copy
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- DVD Copy