There are two major types of horror movie fans from which a million subcategories arise: the all-embracing and the discriminating. The all-embracing are defined by a self-imposed obligation to the genre. They don’t only want to watch these movies, they need to watch these movies, and they’ll indiscriminately devour as many as their free time allows. These are the people who are eagerly awaiting the third installment in the home movie horror franchise that is Paranormal Activity. The discriminating fans, on the other hand, may have given the first film a look (with a predictable reaction of disgust or indifference), but certainly stopped there as to not waste future time that could be spent watching less commercial fare. They’re the smart ones in this case since PA3 is a cookie cutter bore of a film that will only appeal to viewers who are easily startled.
The film takes place in the 1980s and thus the new directing team (who brought you the insufferable Catfish) give the film a VHS-like look. A single mother, her two daughters, and her videographer boyfriend are plagued by a ghost named Toby. The long silences, slow pacing, and punctuated bursts of sound that characterized the first two films are all on full display, as is a repetitive oscillating camera shot that brings to mind the endlessly annoying aerial rooftop shots in Enter the Void. For some reason, ghosts have something to do with witches and thus the doors to supernatural possibilities in future installments are flung wide open (mad monster party home video?). There are maybe three instances of impressive creativity, but a few scares does not a great movie make.
Paranormal Activity 3 opens in Philly-area theaters today.