Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (L) Roger Ebert (1 Star) Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

Paranormal Activity 3 (directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and written by Christopher Landen and Oren Peli) continues the tightly written, suspenseful, increasingly dark and remarkably low-budget Paranormal Activity franchise.  But it's probably the last of the Paranormal Activity movies that I'm going to review on this blog. While I saw the first Paranormal Activity movie and was fascinated by its fantastically low production cost (less than $15,000 for the whole movie) and filming techniques,I only started this blog a year ago.  So I reviewed only Paranormal Activity 2 here.  That movie I continued to like, and I continue to be fascinated with the series' use of (fake) surveillance camera footage to tell a story and to build suspense.  In this regard, Oren Peli, creator of the first Paranormal Activity movie has proven to be a genius.

However, I do find the series getting increasingly dark and I just don't see where else (but get increasingly dark) that the series could go in the future.  Since I've tended to have a "healthy respect" for Evil, the Occult, etc, enough to try to keep a distance from it, I'm calling it quits with regard to this series at this point and would certainly recommend that parents (and young people) consider the same.  The CNS/USCCB also rates this film "L" or for limited viewing (even by adults) with significant reservations.

Expressing here my reservations with the direction of the series, I see the story in this series as building and we, the viewers, really don't know what the intentions and final goals of the producers of this series are or even if they know where they are taking this series.  One does get the sense that they are making it up as they go along.  That may absolve them of some guilt of consciously pursuing an increasingly dark agenda but it also can make them accessories to forces (in Hollywood, our subconscious or even beyond) that they themselves may not understand. 

Paranormal Activity 3 is presented as a prequel to the previous two films when the two sisters, Katie (played as an adult by Katie Featherston) who figures prominently in the first film and Kristi (played as an adult by Sprague Grayden) in the second, were children.  (It's actually quite fascinating how the makers of the film transport the series "use of surveillance cam video schtick" back to 1988 when such technology was not widely accessible to regular, middle class people like those in the story, but they do succeed).  In the first movie, we saw that Katie was tormented by some kind of a demon.  And we were told in that movie that she'd been tormented by this demon for most of her life.  In this the third movie, we're given something of an explanation of why. 

The explanation is actually quite cautionary in nature.  It becomes clear that there was at least one person (and conceivably more) in the lives of these children who was dabbling in the Occult.  So arguably the message becomes, "Don't dabble in the Occult."

But once one brings up "black magic," "the Occult," and all that, the question follows of how much attention or power does one wish to give it.  And I honestly think that it may be best to just say, "Okay, we now know that there were some fairly creepy people in the lives of these two girls when they were kids," and walk away.

There really is no need for a good Christian or a good Catholic to delve into this storyline further.  And when it comes to all this stuff, young Catholics ought to know how to pray their Rosary and certainly their Hail Mary's especially the part "Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners _now_ and at the hour of our death," because there are things that we really don't understand and it's not bad to keep those (darker) things at a distance.

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