Jeff Smith 9 a.m., May 24
Short Takes: Paranormal Activity 3
The static, surveillance camera imagery that found you white-knuckling the armrest in Oren Peli's original, has been replaced by jump cuts and jiggly cinematography. Several of the jolts in this prequel, cleverly set in 1988 at the dawn of camcorders, can be chalked up to nothing more than people piercing the dark silence by screaming “Boo!” Still, if you like your horror time-stamped, your nerves won’t escape unscathed.
The ingenious addition this time around is mounting the camera to an oscillating fan; you never know what is (or isn't) going to be in the frame as the image slowly pendulates across the screen. It takes a lot for a movie to pummel my nerves, and while I'm not sure exactly why I find these low-budget variations on The Old Dark House to be so effective, it's become customary to pack a change of underwear. The Catfish team, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, directed, and these boys find the potential for terror in every corner of the frame.
Reader Rating: Three Stars
MPAA Rating: R