“Paranormal Activity” recycles old tricks in new story

Oct. 31, 2011

Sara Horton
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2 out of 4

I was brave enough to watch the first “Paranormal Activity” at night. Well, I thought I was brave at the time.

The paranoid aftermath dissuaded me from making the same mistake when I watched “Paranormal Activity 2” and “Paranormal Activity 3,” this year’s installment of the documentary style horror franchise.

If you’re a horror fan like me, you’re probably out of luck if you crave a movie without graphic torture that will still convince you to sleep with the lights on.

The first and second “Paranormal” movies were the first to trigger a genuinely frightened reaction from me. The third left me only a little shaken.

Now that everyone knows what to expect when the telltale rumbling and ear ringing sound effects ooze from the speakers, the series has finally lost its magic.

If you’re unfamiliar with “Paranormal,” the story is told in reverse chronological order. The first movie documented Katie, the second followed her sister Kristi and the latest movie provides a glimpse of their unusual childhood.

The movie begins with Kristi’s seemingly innocent invisible friend and, like its predecessors, the tension and anxiety escalate from there.

The building up to the scares feels much slower than previous movies and, with the exception of an intense game of bloody Mary and the finale, the paranormal activity itself is dry and needlessly repetitive.

Multiple fake-outs, which only cheapen the overall effect that “Paranormal Activity 3” struggles to solidify for most of its hour and a half runtime, are even introduced this time around.

Provided that there is only so much that can be done in a horror movie, I expected less recycling and more innovation from the writers.

“Paranormal” has been fun, but it’s time to cap the series as a trilogy before it becomes a farce like “Saw.”