Article first published as "Movie achieves paranormal goal for Halloween release" on technorati
When the first movie of Paranormal Activity was released in 2007, I was genuinely scared out of my wits. I was gullible enough to believe that the movie was seriously adopted from true events. It wasn't until I began researching the names of the characters in the movie online that one or two names appeared in imdb dot com.
I remember as a child growing up how I experienced scary moments at night. As time passed, I dismissed the odd moments as the result of nightmares. One such 'nightmare' that stands out in my mind included an apparition of a woman's leg appearing from beyond the kitchen door. It was decorated in a burlesque fashion and extended back and forth in a dancing gesture similar to what the Rockettes are famous for doing. Perhaps I just needed some stimulation, for I clearly remember those trips to the library asking librarians if they could recomment a book about ghost stories. Somehow I managed to get my hands on the Amityville Horror, a book published in 1977 by the author Jay Anson. I must've been around ten or eleven. One of the scenes in the book included a room in the house that somehow always became engulfed with flies on one side of the wall. Before all this reading, I experienced this very scene in the garage of the house we only recently moved into. The scene in the book, and the incident of the flies in the garage clicked in my head and at that age I just assumed I lived in a house that was naturally haunted. I never figured out how all the flies in my father's garage were making their way in, but I'd sooner just chock it off as insects seeking shelter from the cold. They rested on the eastern side of the wall where a window exposed them to direct sunlight.
Part two of Paranormal Activity wasn't as scary to me because it didn't contain the substance of familiarity I implanted in myself about unexplained phenomenon and things that creak in the night. However, I know some people who have expressed their chilling experience over part two as opposed to part one doing anything for them. I couldn't resist breaking my own rule of thumb about watching sequels to movies, so I decided Paranormal Activity 3 would be as good as any other movie currently being shown. Part three takes you backward in time by one generation. If you've already seen part one and two, you know that the main characters of the story mysteriously disappear, but I'm not the only one puzzled by this. IMDB's message boards contains a post asking a question about how the VHS tapes fit into the fate of Katie and Kristi.
In PA1 and PA2, we're watching "documentaries" cut from footage seized by police. In PA3, Katie brings the tapes over to Kristie's house, and it seems to me like they play them immediately. If I remember correctly, one of the sisters say "do we have a VCR?" or something to that effect before the movie begins.
The only reason we get to see PA3 is because the sisters are watching the footage. Wouldn't this render the entire series impossible? We know Katie and Kristie are supposed to be brainwashed, but if they watched their entire traumatic childhood unfold before them, wouldn't the events of PA1 and PA2 play out a little differently? They would recognize that the demon is Toby, changing the whole dynamic of the series. Someone correct me if I'm way off base on this.
I'm sure there are holes in the plot, but one would have to scrutinized the story thoroughly to deconstruct every if, and or but. In part three, the director tries desperately to maintain the concept that the audience is watching home movies edited together in bits and pieces to contain some headway, but footage doesn't always indicate this as scenes here and there may exclude a missing photographer and/or the discomfort of reluctant subjects whose prespective might be one of raw footage destined to be erased for lack of relevance to the family memento theme. Rather than digging for outtakes, it seems the more interesting question would be why these three films would not have been as successful if they were released in chronological order.
I think there is something about home movies that the three different directors (Oren Peli, Tod Williams, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman) involved in this horror series are trying to tell us. Home movies are only significant to the people who record them. Unless a budding star is mesmerized by them, siblings would normally find them to be boring to watch. What if a child grows up alienated from the memorable special occasions shared by family by blearing the home movies stored in canisters and never having seen them? By never having watched the family momentous videos depicting birthday celebrations, Christmas parties, and Thanksgiving dinners, a full grown adult might be shocked at the footage taken by loving parents. A dull, boring collection of bad filming can become a touching melancholy awareness. The family that prays together, stays together. The family that haunts together, vaunts together.