In 2007, Oren Peli directed what has since become the most novel horror film of our time: Paranormal Activity.
Running in the same conceptual vein as Gareth Edward’s 2010 monster movie,Monsters, or even Dibakar Bannerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha…lol the underlying intent of Paranormal Activity was to approach a seemingly extravagant concept (in this case, that of a supernatural horror film), and to make it work, on as low a budget as possible.
Hence, the film was shot in Peli’s own home over a period of seven days, recorded on household video cameras with the chief actors being paid just $500 for their work.
The result was nothing less than impressive, and the same lo-fi cinematic techniques have been employed once again in filming the third installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise. The results are, yet again, phenomenally impressive.
The plot here is so simple and so hackneyed that at first, one instantly begins to wonder how exactly the directors (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost) are going to make this interesting.
Dennis, his girlfriend Julie and her two daughters Katie and Kristi move into a new home. But little do they know that… well yes, the house is haunted. No surprise.
Admittedly, a little girl talking to spirits is very cliched too. As is light-bulbs spontaneously exploding and doors opening and closing of their own accord. Verbally, this all makes for one boring horror story.
But then again, in Paranormal Activity 3, the narrative is hardly what matters. This film is not a story; it’s an experiment, and a successful one at that, to create horror out of very real, everyday situations. The attention to detail in order to scare you, whether visual or aural, is painstaking and remarkable. It isn’t WHAT happens on screen that’s important, it’s HOW it happens. If, by chance, your phone goes off in your pockets while watching this film, don’t be surprised to find yourself waking up on a hospital bed soon after…right Suchi, how will you go to the loo then?
As for the story, written by Christopher B Landon (anyone remember that Shia LaBeouf starrer Disturbia , which tried so hard to be scary?), it’s a prequel, and the events taking place here trace Kristie and Katie Rey’s supernatural connection back 18 years to their childhood.
Yet, the plot is easily comprehensible and audiences who haven’t seen either Part One or Part Two will not sense any absence of detail (even though there is).
Ultimately, the real masterstroke in the writing process is the absence of conflict resolution. There is no happy ending. Actually, there is no ending at all. The vagueness of the plot is the scariest aspect of the film and will keep you engaged long after the movie is over. Where the ghosts come from, what exactly the ghosts want, why they do what they do… we don’t know. We aren’t meant to. We don’t ever see the ghosts, and the ghosts aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They’re just… paranormal.
And therein lies the beauty of Landon’s script. There’s no bloodshed, there’s no violence, there’s no erratic camera movements.
To make what is probably the most crucial statement, however: No, Paranormal Activity 3 is not a patch on Oran Peli’s original masterpiece. But we aren’t complaining. And no, we don’t miss the nightmares.
So, while part three of the Paranormal Activity franchise won’t shake you to the bone or send you running to the bathroom, it still clicks, eroding all the cliches attached to the age old Haunted house premise at both, a technical and narrative level. The idea may have originally been Oran Peli’s, but as Jean Luc-Godard said: It isn’t where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.
This isn’t revival. This is reinvention. Really, Vikram Bhatt (Haunted), we hope you’re listening. And watching too!
Paranormal Activity 3 is a must-watch for horror fans! huuuuaaaaah!