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Horror on VHS

Steven Olivier: Third in ‘Paranormal’ series delivers scares

Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07



Early in the 2000s, Americans were enamored with the blood and gore of the Saw movies and so called ‘torture porn' genre.. As the franchise progressed viewers grew bored and were left looking for the next big horror fad. Unfortunately, few movies provide thrills that movies like The Exorcist did in 1973.

Then, one movie produced with a shoestring budget became a surprise hit in 2009.

Paranormal Activity used a faux-documentary style and minimalist gimmicks that caused the audience to shriek. The movie cost $15,000 to make and grossed close to $200 million. This success paved the way for a horror franchise, with the third in the series being released this weekend.

The Paranormal Activity franchise is interesting because it goes backward in time instead of forward. Most franchises like this would use the same story with different characters, progressing sequentially after the main movie. However, Paranormal Activity explains how the horrors started and doesn't fail to freak people out.

Combining pure horror gimmick with the subtle realism of possible poltergeist movement, Paranormal Activity 3 stays true to the style of its predecessors without being stale. Watching this movie and thinking of the franchise makes the entire story arc even scarier.

Set in 1988, Katie returns from the first movie as a child with one sister-Kristi, from the second movie- and their two parents. The camera man in this movie is her father, a wedding filmographer who hears strange noises in the house and fears the worst. Upon noticing his daughter talking to an imaginary friend known as "Toby" the father sets up cameras in the house and picks up some frightening footage. The film slowly builds to a brutally terrifying conclusion.

This movie avoids some horror clichés, such as cuing dramatic music before a shock, while using some typical tactics. What separates this film from the others is that those tactics are performed as something laughable, like the movie is parodying those films. The real haunting sequences get a better treatment.

A lot of the buildup comes from the camerawork; this should come as no surprise to those who've seen the first two movies. The filming and editing add the suspense to this movie with each jump. Some of the cameras are used in very unique ways. For example, the father sets up a camera on an old fan that pans back and forth in the kitchen. The suspense slowly builds with this camera with each subtle turn. The audience will know something bad is about to happen but not what or when. Combine this ghost story with a potential mystery, and it becomes even more interesting.

Paranormal Activity 3 is a welcome installation of an already popular franchise. The realism of this movie is the real star. Expanding on the documentary style that the supposed "scariest film of all time" used in the 70s, this movie, combined with its predecessors, becomes The Exorcist of our generation: truly scary.



Steven Olivier is a junior English major

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