Thanks to the lax security at UA Westbury Theaters (or no security at all - not even ticket takers) I was able to catch Paranormal Activity 3 after I went to see Ides of March (discussion up at 35 Movie Minutes).
I'll start by saying that I was entertained by the first one, but ultimately was not scared. And the two leads were two of the more obnoxious and annoying people ever put to camera. I was rooting for the ghost or demon to put me out of my misery and destroy them and their house. So I decided to skip Paranormal Activity 2 altogether.
But I've been hearing good things about the latest incarnation... how 2 was a trainwreck but this redeems itself and is much better than the first one. So I decided to give it a shot. And I am ultimately glad I did. Because all of those rumblings were true. I was into this film from start to finish, into the characters (it is a prequel to 1 and 2) and cared about whether they lived or died - which is what matters when you're watching a horror movie. That and the scares were genuinely scary. First time in a very long time I can say that. I don't remember the last time in fact (the original Scream?)
They do a little tugging at your heart strings by making two of the inhabitants children. It's hard to root against them. And, while most children actors are cloying and suck - these two are good. Especially Kristi, the youngest daughter. More importantly, the guy doing all of the taping, Dennis, is actually likeable. I can honestly say it is the first time in a 'found footage' type of movie where I didn't root for their death. I didn't quite care about the wife, but I didn't dislike her either.
Whereas in films like Blair Witch Project and the original Paranormal, where you're waiting and waiting for something to happen - things get kicked off real quick in this one. And they don't let up.
My only gripe is how Dennis deals with the mother (girlfriend). She doesn't want to believe any of this stuff... but there's a lot of shit going on. And he's got video footage of it all. It's very frustrating as a viewer. But perhaps the mother, obviously growing up under the grandmother, knows what is going on to some extent? Along those lines, I would have liked to see the grandmother make an appearance somewhere in between her bookends.
Somewhat small gripes for a film that is definitely worth your time. The directors behind Catfish did a good job with this one... they are definitely not one shot wonders.