First is the Best, Second is the Same, All the Rest Go Down the Drain: A Paranormal Activity Trilogy Review
January 1, 2012
Most of us, by now, have heard of, if not seen, at least one of the movies in the “Paranormal Activity” trilogy. These suspense ‘mockumentaries’ about an unsuspecting family that encounters run-ins with demon visitors have grown in popularity, but not in delivery. The plot has technically been wrapped up, but the audience has been left a bit disappointed.
The very first to the film, which made more than 18,000 times the original budget of $11,000, focuses on the young couple Micah and Katie. When Katie fears that a haunting evil spirit has continued to follow her into her new life and home, Micah sets up a camera to document the events of their household. From morning to night the tape is rolling, and unwanted occurrences become more noticeable. Unexplained shadows and noises, moving doors, and tugged sheets begin to scare not only the audience, but also the couple in the movie. Micah takes on a leading dominant man role about things, trying to investigate these events, while Katie just wants to forget about it. In the end, the demon takes over Katie. The movie ends with Micah’s death and the hint that demon-Katie is out on the loose. This movie, a true thriller, not only gives the audience a scare in the theater but also haunts them on their way home. The lingering hint that they could be in danger puts the movie over the edge.
“Paranormal Activity 2”, a prequel set around Katie’s sister, Kristi, and her family, really played up the suspense genre. The camera is always in the same place, each night. This made your eyes move from left to right, up to down, waiting to notice something shake, slide, or swing. Director Oren Peli had the audience sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for a bang or a noise in the background, keeping them anxious with the shadows, squeaks, and subtle warnings that the demon was lingering. There is the same parallel plot as the first film. Every night we see the same camera angle in baby Hunter’s room. What I think makes “Paranormal Activity 2” just as good, if not better, than the original is that it haunts you with little things, longer and longer, building up the excitement and emotionally investing you in the story now, focused around the haunting of a baby.
I had hoped that the final installment of the trilogy would be the very best. While I was not sure of what to expect, I was looking forward to seeing the movie. I thought from the trailers that this would be the best one yet. However, I was thinking the exact opposite while walking out of the theater. Set in 1988, eighteen years before the original movie takes place, “Paranormal Activity 3” tells the story of how the paranormal activity with Katie and Kristi began. It is now revealed that the demon is Kristi’s imaginary friend, Toby, who demands her attention. When Kristi threatens him, he becomes violent and we see where everything starts. The idea for the story was very good, but the delivery was weaker than the first two movies. There are still bumps in the dark and slamming doors, but I was expecting bigger and better. There were moments when I was nervous or frightened, but the only place I will say I was scared was the very end, when most of the action took place. I didn’t have the same feeling of suspense I had had with the other movies; when comparing them, the only variable is the director. For whatever reason, the last installment was ditched by director Oren Peli and picked up by Ariel Schuman. There just wasn’t the same fearful feel to it. The feel was the want for a better movie.