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Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Chris Smith, Lauren Bittner, Chloe Csengery
Writing Credits:
Christopher Landon

In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home Name Toby.

Rated R/Not Rated.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min. (Theatrical Version)
94 min. (Unrated Version)
Price: $8.99
Release Date: 1/24/2012

• Both Theatrical and Unrated Cuts
• “Lost Footage”
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Paranormal Activity 3 [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 4, 2022)

When Paranormal Activity became a surprise hit in 2009, it quickly spawned a sequel via 2010’s Paranormal Activity 2. Since that one earned bucketloads of money as well, 2011 inevitably brought Paranormal Activity 3.

Activity 3 brought in more box office dollars than its two predecessors, so it continued the financial fun for the studio. With this one, we get formal prequel to the events of those films.

Set in 1988, we meet sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown). They live with their mom Julie (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend Dennis (Chris Smith), a wedding videographer.

When weird actions arise, Kristi claims her imaginary friend “Toby” causes mischief in the house. When some of these events push credulity, Dennis sets up cameras in the house to record the shenanigans and determine if something supernatural exists.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Activity 2, I think the franchise made a major misstep when it decided to become “The Katie Saga”. Activity 2 offered a minor prequel of its own, as it took place a few months prior to the first film’s events and introduced Kristi to the overall narrative.

I still think an anthology approach would’ve made more sense, and the franchise did eventually go that way. The attempts to retrofit a long legend related to Katie and her family feels forced and silly.

Of course, given how little I cared for the first two movies, this couldn’t become a fatal flaw. They seemed so dull that the franchise really couldn’t go downhill from there.

That said, I did prefer Activity 2 to the initial film, and I like Activity 3 best of the opening trio. While many of the same flaws that dogged its predecessors remain, Activity 3 at least works a little harder to offer an actual story.

This stems from the Dennis character, as he acts to motivate a lot of what we see – literally, since without his gig as a wedding photographer, there’d be less plausibility behind the notion that someone could set up multiple cameras in the house. As I will discuss later, Activity 3 jettisons verisimilitude in many ways, at least it recognizes that few 1988 households enjoyed one video camera, much less a bunch of them or surveillance cams.

In addition, Dennis acts as a detective of sorts. In the first two films, the characters tended to simply react to events, whereas here Dennis becomes more proactive as he investigates the potentially supernatural elements.

The presence of “Toby” gives the movie more of a narrative thrust as well. During the prior flicks, bizarre shenanigans occurred without any form of obvious presence, so though he remains unseen, “Toby” at least offers the audience a semi-tangible horror character.

All of this creates a film with more tension and actual plot movement than its predecessors. Those often felt like long stretches of monotony punctuated by jump scares, whereas Activity 3 advocates real story points on a more frequent basis.

Does any of this make Activity 3 an honest to God good movie? Not really, mainly because it still relies so heavily on those “boo moments”.

Virtually all of the “scares” in the first two flicks stemmed from sudden jolts, and that remains the emphasis for Activity 3. We get very few moments of organic terror, as the movie needs its jumps to provoke a response.

That said, Activity 3 builds a sense of tension that its predecessors lack. As the story develops, we get some actual anxiety along the way, a factor that rarely played into the dull and flat first two movies.

On its own, I won’t call Activity 3 an especially involving film, as it relies on too many horror tropes. However, I think it clearly becomes the best of the series to that point, for it manages superior story and character development without as many boring stretches.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Paranormal Activity 3 appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. That acted as a blow to verisimilitude, as videotaped footage from 1988 should remain 1.33:1.

In addition, the picture quality looked much better than it should for VHS from 1988, though I get the choice. A movie with actual VHS-level resolution displayed on a large movie screen would exasperate the audience.

This meant visuals that looked subpar for a circa 2011 movie but also felt too attractive for then-23-year-old videotape. As such, expect a hodgepodge.

Sharpness varied from reasonably semi-taut to loose and fuzzy. Most of the flick brought acceptable delineation, but it rarely became especially crisp.

Minor instances of jaggies and shimmering occurred, but I saw no edge haloes. Inevitable digital noise cropped up at times – primarily in lower-light shots – but other forms of source flaws failed to appear.

Better-lit elements leaned toward an amber/brown vibe, while night scenes veered toward blue. The colors looked adequate but failed to ignite.

Blacks seemed inky, while shadows tended to seem pretty dense. Though not as ugly as it should be, the visuals seemed spotty as expected.

Whereas the first two movies stayed with extremely limited soundscapes, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix for Activity 3 opened up matters better. As with the visuals, this ignored the “you are there” vibe one might expect, but at least the track didn’t go too crazy.

Much of the soundfield focused on the front center, but we got more than a few expansions. While the prior films used the side and rear channels for little more than ominous ambience, Activity 3 became more ambitious.

This meant some actual split surround material and more than a few shots with other localized material. Again, the track stayed low-key a lot of the time, but it blossomed much more than its predecessors and used the spectrum in a fairly satisfying manner.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that could feel a little distant but that remained intelligible and moderately natural. No music accompanied the movie.

Effects showed good accuracy and packed some low-end punch during louder scenes like earthquakes. Though not a consistently strong mix, this one offered some useful audio.

The disc provides both the movie’s “R”-rated theatrical cut (1:24:08) as well as an unrated Extended Version (1:33:59). What does that nearly 10 minutes additional get the viewer?

We find a mix of added character beats and a few more spooky moments. These make the film more effective, so the longer cut works better.

Under Lost Footage, we find two clips: “Scare Montage” (2:15) and “Dennis’s Commercial” (0:56). “Montage” shows Dennis’s persistent attempts to frighten Julie, while “Commercial” shows Dennis’s attempts to promote his wedding video business. Both are mildly interesting.

Although Paranormal Activity 3 fails to reinvent any found footage wheels, it manages to work better than its two predecessors. It still relies on too many jump scares, but at least it builds actual tension and narrative elements. The Blu-ray comes with appropriate picture and audio but it skimps on bonus materials. Activity 3 comes with too many failings to offer a legitimately good film, but I prefer it to the first two in the series.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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