Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 October Horror Movie Challenge Movie 81: Paranormal Activity 3

So knowing that the first movie frightened me into hysterics, what did I do? Why I decided to watch the second and third installments on the same night, within hours of each other, and I nearly gave myself a heart attack.

Here's the thing with these movies. They don't have a lot of special effects; they're just regular people hanging out in their house when suddenly things start happening that can't really be explained by natural causes, and the people get more and more frightened and everything builds to a conclusion that usually doesn't end favorably for everyone involved. In most movies like this, you scream for the people to get out of the house, but in these movies that won't necessarily help, because the evil is attached to the people, not to the house, so it can follow them even if they move. Furthermore, the demon/evil presence thing seems to feed on fear, so the more people get scared of it, the stronger it grows. Even trying to cast it out seems to give it the attention it needs to grow stronger. It's impossible to fight. The only way to stop it is to give it whatever it wants, which is usually something indispensable, like your soul. It's a terrifying premise for me. That's why, no matter how cheesy the movies get, the underlying mythology of what's happening to these people is enough to make my skin crawl right off my body and hide in the closet. And even there it's not safe.

This movie certainly has its flaws. The video quality, being from the 80s (supposedly) is bad, and sometimes it's hard to see what's going on, and the twisty explanation for the events onscreen is a little hokey, though I think in the end it works. I'll be honest with you. I love children, I adore them, I think they're wonderful...but they creep me OUT sometimes. This movie is chock full of little kid creepiness. It also has some gags involving regular household objects falling or flying around that manage to creep me out. One particular scene involving a white bedsheet probably shouldn't have worked, but it scared me so badly that I screamed and cried (it is embarrassing to watch movies with me in a theater). Once the characters finally realize what is going on it's mostly too late, and the climax of this movie really had me torn. On the one hand, I was tempted to roll my eyes at the cheesiness of it, on the other, I was thinking in the back of my mind "damn, I have to go home alone after this and sleep..." not a good thing. Every noise in the house was amplified and seemed sinister and foreboding.

That's the thing about these movies. They feature regular people in regular houses, except in these movies, those noises, those bumps in the night you hear when you're lying alone in bed at night? The ones you tell yourself are nothing? They are SOMETHING. something evil that can come after you and stalk you throughout the years until it finally kills you. Nighty-nightmares! That is what makes the movies work for me. In spite of everything that may be wrong with them, they remind me that every little spooky noise I hear could be an evil thing that wants to kill me (like I needed another excuse not to ever sleep again). The movie may not be great, but I do think it's good, and it will probably haunt my dreams for awhile after watching it. If you like these movies, give the third one a chance. Sweet dreams.

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