Monday, October 24, 2011

Horrorthon 3: Day Twenty-One: Paranormal Activity 3 (Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2011) -- C-

Aside from offering an adept tutorial regarding On and Off-screen space, Paranormal Activity 3 provides little to legitimate its "Where's Waldo?" gimmick, as ephemeral as it is cynical, not utilizing its "personal" aesthetic for political means, but merely as an asinine piggy-backing ploy, seemingly oblivious or apathetic to why its domestic terror via home video footage resonates so forcefully with audiences (PA 3 became horror's biggest opener this weekend with a haul of roughly 54M). Not that any of this should surprise considering filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman's previous film, Catfish, equally exploited and remained oblivious to its faux-documentary foolishness, the opposite of self-reflexive, questioning representation by accident rather than through an honorable attempt. Though Catfish could at least offer an interesting case study of ever shrinking lines between (non)fiction, Paranormal Activity 3 merely seeks to fulfill itself as a product of Paramount's ingenious marketing campaign (anchored by a "Bloody Mary" scene which does not appear in the feature, itself).

Moreover, Joost and Schulman prove to be the philistines their debut suggests, in that their interests are so miniscule, so detached from the personal becoming the political, that Paranormal Activity 3 could barely even be called ephemeral, its phantasmagoric pretenses masking retrograde narrative nonsense that literally devolves into haggard old-woman paranoia, without the slightest hint of satire. Expect straight-faced babysitter screams and scared best friend sequences too; Joost and Schulman are embarrassingly prideful about their derivative demeanor, aping from the franchise itself and other films so liberally, but disguised under a suggestion of innovation, that by the film's limp-wristed, "that's it?" conclusion, the stringent odor of consumerist, naif-devised bullshit abounds.

1 comment:

  1. So I got around to seeing this on Tuesday, and while I think the movie was marred overall due to the ineptitude of its filmmakers, as the end to a trilogy (or what I hope is a trilogy, at least), it helped me notice a thematic through-line for the entire franchise.

    In each of these films, a male character is killed for sticking his camera - which could easily represent a proxy for his penis - where it doesn't belong. The women in all three of these films became more powerful, just as women have in western society. And in trying to mock, ignore, or tamper with this power, the male characters are all punished.

    We find out that the origin of the evil in these films comes from a female-dominated pagan society. And while the acting in the final shot was poorly acted, we see a man who is paralyzed for his love of technology as three women, hand-in-hand, ascend a flight of stairs.

    With all the money this new film made, I know we're getting a PA4, and probably a PA5,6,7, and 8. But as far as horror trilogies go, I don't know if I can think of a better actual one in existence. By part three, horror films almost always take a horrible dive. What do you think?