Blu-ray Review: Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Acticity 3 Blu-raySTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman | CAST: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Lauren Bittner
1/24/2012 | PRICE: DVD $19.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $44.99, DVD/Blu-ray Combo $44.99
BONUSES: unrated version included, bonus footage
SPECS: R/NR | 84 min./93 min. | Horror | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The chills are far more frequent and often more acute in Paranormal Activity 3 — the third installment of the incredibly successful horror movie franchise — than in Part 1 and 2, which makes sense for this “origin” story.

Yes, Part 3 depicts events that occurred about 17 years prior to those in the original movie, with the character of the child Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) from the other film appearing in forgotten videotapes as a young tyke talking to an unseen, malevolent entity named “Toby.” Hints are dropped as to why Kristi becomes the target of this demonic force, which will follow her from home to home throughout her life. But the exposition isn’t the point — the scares are. And when Kristi and her sister (Chloe Csengery) play “Bloody Mary” in the bathroom or when things go crash in the night, Paranormal 3 starts to sizzle.

Paranormal Activity 3 movie scene

Chills are in store for Chloe Csengery (l.) and Jessica Tyler Brown in Paranormal Activity 3.

The shrewd direction by helmers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the pair previously co-directed Catfish) effectively mixes been-there, done-that happenings with some clever feints to keep the viewer on edge. Not everything happens when you expect it to, and with a family of four and a hapless babysitter on the scene, the opportunities for the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up exponentially.

Since Paranormal Activity 3 is comprised of 1980s-era videotape, all the accompanying grain that goes along with it is on the screen. But as the movie is presented in widescreen and high definition, there’s nothing ambiguous in the picture, even when the creeps are as ephemeral as shadows or vague outlines. The audio is crisp, hard-hitting and enhanced with a healthy dose of low frequency just about every time the titular activity occurs, a trademark of the series.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack caters to all tastes, with both theatrical and extended, unrated cuts on the Blu-ray platter, the latter adding nine additional minutes. Along with a standard DVD, the pack includes an UltraViolet digital copy, so the film can be downloaded to your PC or streamed from the cloud on almost every platform.

The Blu-ray also includes a couple of rudimentary extras, including the “Lost Tapes,” which run a scant three minutes and aren’t nearly as intriguing as the title implies.

Fans of the Paranormal Activity series will find much to like the third time around, or the first time around, depending on how you look at it.

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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.