Feature

Paranormal Activity 3

This prequel to the first two films in the Paranormal franchise shows why the family initially came to be haunted.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman(R)

**

Like its hit predecessors, Paranormal Activity 3 is “more fun house spook show than actual horror movie,” said Marc Savlov in The Austin Chronicle. Still, it’s got enough “jolts, frissons, and downright freak-outs” to please teens on date night. Documentary makers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman take the reins for this prequel, set in 1988, when adult sisters from the first two films were children. Even with the new directors, there’s a sense of “haunted-house franchise as fast-food chain”: No matter who’s making the burgers, they “all come out tasting the same,” said Scott Tobias in the A.V. Club. Sure enough, the film’s main trick is to use home-surveillance cameras to capture things that go bump in the night, though this time we also learn why the family initially came to be haunted. You wouldn’t want to view all three installments in one sitting, said Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. But each one works the way an effective ghost story should. Watching this one in a crowded theater reclaims “the pleasures of the good old-fashioned communal shriek.”

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