When a Movie Wants to be “Poltergeist”…

I don’t know why a movie would want to be Poltergeist, since it isn’t particularly scary, but I guess a lot of people, inanimate objects, and works of art wish that they were something else. That’s the case with Paranormal Activity 3. There are at least two moments in this movie that seem to be homages to Poltergeist.
Paranormal Activity 3 is actually a prequel to the first two movies. It’s kind of weird how the timeline in this series is set up. Paranormal Activity 3 is, temporally, the first part of the series. Paranormal Activity 2 is, temporally, the second part of the series. But the events in Paranormal Activity occur last.
If you recall Paranormal Activity 2, stepdaughter, Ali, researches the paranormal activity

She said it!


in her house, and discovers that deals can be made with demons in exchange for wealth and power. The exchangey part has to do with offering the firstborn male to the demon.
In Paranormal Activity 2, Kristi (I still hate this spelling!) and her family are being terrorized. The original Paranormal Activity has Katie and her boyfriend being terrorized. Both movies allude that the sisters had experience with the paranormal. Paranormal Activity 3 shows that devil-worship is actually a family business for Kristi and Katie’s grandmother.
There, that was convoluted, wasn’t it? I feel like I should make flashcards or a flow-chart or something.
The videotapes we’re supposed to be seeing are from a box that Katie dropped off to Kristi’s house before Kristi’s baby was born. This box belonged to Grandma Louis and Katie got the box when Grandma died.
The long and the short; Kristi and Katie live with their mom, Julie, and her boyfriend, Dennis. Dennis is a videographer and is playing with his new camera. One night, Dennis and Julie are planning on shooting a sex-tape, in the most awkward scene ever committed to camera, when they’re thankfully interrupted by an earthquake. Dennis notices something weird when replaying the footage–dust falls from the ceiling and seems to outline a figure.
At the same time, Kristi, the younger of the two sisters, has created an imaginary friend named Toby. Or is he imaginary?

The face of evil.


Dennis sets up cameras in his bedroom, Kristi and Katie’s bedroom, and the kitchen/dining room. I actually really like Dennis, I think that he’s the most rational character in possibly the whole series. He actually dismantles the blades from an oscillating fan and attaches a camcorder to it, so he can have a view of both the kitchen and the dining room. I like the way he thinks.
And, as per the rest of the series, they start to film creepy happenings.
A Teddy Ruxpin doll sets itself off.

Tool of the devil.


Most of the activity seems to center around Kristi and her imaginary friend. She’s filmed talking to him and wandering around the house, as if in a trance. And the more the family acknowledges Toby and the strange events, the more they happen.
And here come the Poltergeist homages. At one point, the items in Katie and Kristi’s room start to get sucked into a crawl space in their room. At another point, Julie is in the kitchen. She turns her back and when she faces the kitchen again, everything that isn’t bolted down to the floor is gone and then falls from the ceiling. It’s very, very similar to the scene in Poltergeist when all the chairs are suddenly piled on the table.
Dennis’ assistant, Randy, an adorable hesher, steals some books from the library about demons and ghosts. Dennis reads about covens that exist to give birth to boys that they offer to the devil…I guess. This wasn’t too clear.
Anyway, as the activity escalates, they decide to go to Julie’s mother’s house. To bad Granny is so in league with the devil.
Dennis and Julie go to sleep, with Dennis filming, of course. Dennis wakes up to check on the girls and finds the entire house seems to be empty. Except for out back, where Grandma and I guess her not cookie exchange friends are all dressed in black. Grandma has a pentagram on her wall that was hidden under some innocuous eighties artwork. Big deal, I thought, Grandma likes some Judas Priest. There’s also a symbol on the wall that was in one of the occult books and scrawled on the ceiling of the crawl space in crayon. It looks suspiciously like the symbol of the deathly hallows, if you removed the Elder Wand.

Dennis finally finds Kristi and goes looking for Katie. Julie is hovering on the top of the stairs, clearly dead, and something throws her body at Dennis, injuring his leg. Katie finally appears and when Dennis approaches her, she screams and makes the creepiest evil child face ever. Some force eventually bends Dennis back way too far, you hear a snap, and he’s dead. The movie ends with Katie and Kristi going upstairs with Grandma Satan.
Which makes me ask, what was the point? The second movie says that these deals are entered into for wealth and power, but the family doesn’t seem too wealthy or powerful. Grandma dresses like a retired high school art teacher and her house is decorated like it belongs to your new-agey therapist that tries to adjust your chakras. But I see neither fabulous riches nor political power. This is why you should never trust the devil, especially devils named Toby–they never keep their promises.
I think that this movie is the weakest in the trilogy. All three movies lose their scariness whenever they try to explain the hauntings, because the explanations just sound too goofy. Upon rereading my review for Paranormal Activity 2, I think that I was too harsh on that movie. It’s definitely the strongest in the series. Paranormal Activity 3 delivers some scares, but not as many as either of the previous entries. They didn’t really add anything new to the formula, just children. That’s a sitcom premise, not a horror movie, unless you plan on killing the kids. The movie also relies on some of the series’ former tropes that I dislike, specifically, the speeding up of the time stamp on the camera that lets you know whenever anything creepy is going to happen.
This movie wasn’t really bad, but it wasn’t really good either. It didn’t really inspire anything in me, mostly indifference. Yet, it’s still better than that lamecakes movie from last night, Dream House.

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 21st century, ghosts, possession, satanism, supernatural and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to When a Movie Wants to be “Poltergeist”…

  1. Fear Street says:

    Haven’t seen this one yet. I really like the other two, though.

    • scarina says:

      The second one is my favorite. I love when a lot of creepy little things happen, that’s so much scarier to me than something big. In fact, something really creepy happened to me this week. I was on vacation at my mom’s house. My mom was asleep and, other than her, I was alone in the house. I’d just stepped out of the shower when the bathroom door, that was LOCKED, flew open. So. Creepy.

  2. merryface says:

    This really helped explain what happened. but I was wondering. did the mum actually die? because in the 1st PA when they are looking around the house with the psychic he says something along the lines of, “you dont want any negative energy in the house” and micah says “you mum cant come over and visit”.

    • scarina says:

      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad this helped.
      I’d forgotten about that in PA1. It seemed like she was dead in PA3. You see her at the top of the staircase and she’s hovering and her head is slumped to the side at a really weird angle. Then she’s flung at Dennis and you don’t see her move after that.

  3. Pingback: I, For One, Welcome the Comet | Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness

  4. Patrick Bingham says:

    Don’t forget the several other connections to Poltergeist: The obvious being the entity’s name Toby (Poltergeist director = Tobe Hooper); the pot-smoking scene, the earthquake, the two children living in the same room, the gold fish, the style of the beds, the way kristi speaks to toby… I’m writing my MA dissertation on these films, so I will most likely be quoting you!

    • scarina says:

      I am damn impressed by your knowledge of Poltergeist. The similarities really can’t be accidental.
      That sounds like the coolest dissertation and I can’t help but blush at the idea of being quoted.

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