Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3: First Impression & Other Thoughts

My 12 year old son and I just got back from an afternoon showing of Paranormal Activity 3. The decision to watch the third installment came after friends reported how good it was. One friend on Facebook wrote, "D- it was awesome. better than the first two."

Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Paranormal Activity 3 opened the weekend in first place and broke a record with the best debut in the horror film genre, generating $54 million. That was enough to get me into a theater seat.

After about an hour and a half, we walked out of the theater momentarily shaken.

First Impression
As the final credits walked across the screen, I sat there in my seat feeling disappointed in how the movie ended. It was abrupt. I suppose if you've seen the other movies, you know what I mean.

At the conclusion, we are supposed to have a better understanding of how it all began, but the writers leave a lot of the details unexplained. For example, why are the kids being targeted?

The longer I thought about the movie, the more I am convinced that we got exactly what we paid for in screams.

Sitting next to my son, I left the theater with bruises from all of his violent reactions to the unexpected phenomenon. Yes, even I jumped a few times. Although, I can't be sure it wasn't first prompted by the screams and shrills of the audience around me.

Was it worth the money? you ask. My response is, "Yes." When you compare Paranormal Activity 3 to a Halloween inspired haunted house or haunted forest, the outcome was the same and at a cheaper price. For $13, I was able to offer two people with a 1.5 hour experience versus 30 minutes at $30.

Other Observations
Camera Work
Similar to the work done in the earlier films, this movie is shot entirely from the first person camera. Everything we saw and heard came through the numerous cameras set up by the main character.

What amazes me about these kinds of movies lies in its simplicity. With a single camera, the director can create suspense. There are no scary strings, organs, or violins playing in a minor key. There is just an eerie silence that accompanies the occasional creaking or knocking sound. Then, at just the right moment, some loud bang fills the room and the hair on our arms stand on end.

I even heard grown men scream like little girls. That's one way to know that this medium still works.

Another observation that I had after watching this movie is the appeal of first person video. What does it feel like to live in the world of someone else? With the popularity of reality television, many of us experience life through the eyes of others. Take iJustine (Justine Ezarik) for example. Through her handheld camera, we get to follow her to the set of our favorite television shows or watch her dance wildly in an Apple Store.

If a director can create an entire series of movies using a handheld device, how much more can you or I create a lifelong story using the very same tools?

Final Thought
Overall, I think the movie was a good one. Not so much for the story line as it was for the thrill it creates. Out of 5 stars, I would give it a 3.5.


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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