Paranormal Activity makes me miss Saw
I think I’m starting to miss the Saw movies. Don’t get me wrong. I never really met a Saw movie I liked. It’s just that these Paranormal Activity movies are trying to scare us with falling frying pans and rumpling sheets.
As I was typing this, and this is no lie, a suitcase that I had precariously placed on my washing machine fell down … all by itself! Can you believe that? It made a sudden crashing noise and everything, just like the disturbances the ghosts or demons or whatever they are have caused repeatedly in these films.
The suitcase falling in my laundry room was scarier than anything I saw in Paranormal Activity 3.
This time out, we journey back to the late ’80s, when Kristi Rey and Katie, the sisters in the first two films, are little ones (Jessica Brown and Chloe Csengery, respectively). The youngest, Kristi Rey, has an imaginary friend who is really a ghost named Toby who likes to play around with her Teddy Ruxpin and knock lamps over.
Their stepdad, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), notices some funny bumps in the night. He’s a wedding videographer, so he sets up his cameras all over the house, just like they did in the first two films. (A bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?)
One camera is set on an oscillating-fan mechanism so it can constantly pan a room, so you sit and wait while the camera pans to the left, knowing full well that something will probably happen when it pans back to the right.
Dad stays in a house that is obviously haunted, keeping his family in harm’s way. Also, he and his assistant keep their cameras going while they are being haunted and terrorized. They run around while the ghost is physically attacking them, managing to keep things relatively smooth and in frame. Screw that—anybody getting scratched by a ghost thing would use that camera as a weapon, or drop it and head for the hills.
The two little girls are fine in the film, and are the ones primarily responsible for the few scares that work. Even so, that scary moment many of us have seen in the trailer, when the girls play the Bloody Mary game in a bathroom, isn’t even in the film. It’s the best thing directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman filmed for their movie and they edited it out.
The first film in the series scared me a little, but that was before the formula became so obvious. That ending is still a classic, but 2 and 3 have worn that formula down to the nub. The finale involves some sort of witchcraft element, or something like that. I’m not sure. I was still trying to regroup my senses after that ladle fell on the floor halfway into the movie. Yikes!