‘Paranormal’ succeeds in suspense, fails in finish

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Same plot, different time period. “Paranormal Activity 3” has done it again, making audiences jump and scream with its elaborate camerawork and spooky incidences. With Halloween coming up, “Paranormal Activity 3” would be a good movie to see for the occasion. A couple warnings, however — don’t expect to see everything from the previews or leave the theater with a better understanding of the complete plot, because this movie is only just another piece of the puzzle.

Starting off with Katie (Katie Featherston, “Paranormal Activity” and “Paranormal Activity 2”) checking up on her sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and Kristi’s husband Daniel (Brian Boland, “Paranormal Activity 2”) when their house is trashed by the “trespasser” (which happened at the beginning of “Paranormal Activity 2”), the three notice the only thing that is missing is a box of home videos. It flashes to the home video of Katie’s birthday party back in 1988 and then ultimately stays in 1988 for the remainder of the film.

Fortunately, the eerie occurrences start happening sooner instead of waiting until half the movie like the previous two “Paranormal”s. It all begins the night the girls’ mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and stepfather (Christopher Nicholas Smith) smoke marijuana and attempt to make a sex tape, but an earthquake interrupts it. The parents dash upstairs to get to a young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown), while the camera drops to the floor and stays rolling. Dust falls from the ceiling and floats on an invisible human shape. Dennis watches the video later, becomes obsessed with the “ghost” and begins to set up cameras in various parts of the house. Dennis also notices that the “appearance” didn’t show up until after Kristi starts talking to her imaginary friend Toby. Kristi has tea parties with Toby, as well as talks to him during the night — which Dennis catches on tape.

Katie, acting like a typical older sister, keeps angering Kristi by telling her Toby isn’t real; however, even though Kristi warns her, she finds out really quickly that Toby isn’t someone — or something — to mess with. The mini closet door slams on Katie after she sarcastically calls out Toby’s name. “You shouldn’t have done that,” Kristi says in a funny “I-told-you-so” tone. It only goes downhill from there when Kristi later tells Toby she doesn’t want to talk to him anymore.

Even though “Paranormal” is a horror movie like the first two movies, the scarier parts are calmed down with humorous incidents, this time involving Kristi, Katie, Dennis’ coworker Randy (Dustin Ingram) and the babysitter. The film is set up the same way the other movies were, yet they pushed a little more this time. Unique and suspenseful moments happen sooner and more often, and there are more characters to work with. The camera angles work for the suspense as well, one camera being connected to a rotating fan apparatus. The only thing missing? A clear, solid ending.

While “Paranormal” is supposed to explain why this demonic spirit has been disturbing Kristi and Katie ever since they were children, it has left people scratching their heads. Perhaps the producers are trying to milk it for all it’s worth and are planning to make a “Paranormal Activity 4” — in fact, they need to so audiences can finally understand who made a deal with the devil, when it happened, why it happened or if it even happened at all — but regardless of why they chose the ending they did, don’t go into the movie expecting an obvious conclusion. Instead, sit back (or stay on the edge of your seat, for that matter) and enjoy the suspense, convincing special effects and comical remarks from the characters.

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