Jon de Vos: Abnormal inactivity
Fraser, CO Colorado
Paranormal Activity 3 is a horror film in the shaky, hand-held genre of Blair Witch Project.
Instead of cameras flopping on their side in the woods, like BWP, PA3’s cameras flop onto carpet because this low budget stinkeroo is filmed entirely indoors. Where I should have stayed. Where popcorn doesn’t require budgeting.
PA3 covers six days in the lives of a wedding videographer, his girlfriend, her two kids and their imaginary playmate (demon), along with the girlfriend’s mom, a witch. No, really. More on that later. You are painfully made aware of each day’s passing by periodic, black-screen announcements, starting with DAY 1. By the strange quirk of Einstein’s Relativity, time in the theater only seemed longer.
I hear my mother now, “Well, if you’re just going to complain about the movie, why didn’t you simply walk out?” Because I’m such a movie junkie that I’d hesitate to leave a theater if flames were licking at the curtain and chunks of plaster and dust were falling from the ceiling.
Even so, PA3 was pretty far down the list of movies I’d like to see, but when you run into the theater yelling, “Gimme a ticket for whatever starts next!” they’re happy to accommodate you. I flopped into the seat with a Yugo-Size popcorn just as the movie opened. Turns out I would have seen more activity in the parking lot watching the asphalt turn back into dinosaurs.
Let me spoil the movie for you: This video-recording nutcase and his girlfriend move in with the girl’s mother and decide, what the heck, let’s make a sex tape. But just when the going got good, remember the girl’s mom is a witch, she totally bums out the frisky couple by causing an earthquake. Didn’t need to ask if the earth moved, it knocked a serving platter off the china hutch.
Weird things happen and don’t forget the witch. OK, that part took up one hour and 21 minutes. The creepiest moment during that whole time was when I almost spilled soda on the gorilla sitting next to me.
The movie crossed great expanses of time made painstakingly tedious by adding a digital clock at the lower right hand of the screen. Watching it count down, while the camera is panning slowly back and forth from the living room to the kitchen, was like watching dinosaurs turn to asphalt. And with each oscillation, the audience gets to play the child’s game of finding the differences between near-identical photos. I could hear the lady in front of me as the camera panned the same room for the forty-leventh time, “Was that a ghost?”
Her companion: “I dunno.”
Thirty-eight minutes passed in agonizing, digital, one-second increments, interrupted by an occasional nausea-inducing fast-forward. Finally, from the row in front of me again, “Hey! Was that a ghost?”
Companion: “I dunno.”
Fully 60 percent of this big-screen movie consisted of watching tiny-screen home movies watching people toss and turn in their sleep. Audience reaction was a head-back, open-mouth snore. It’s like the producers tried to create their own repeat business by boring people to sleep. People who have to come back to see what they missed, fall asleep, come back, fall …
In the final three minutes of this glacially slow-moving non-epic, everything happens. Grandma reveals her dark side and teaches the camera guy all about the wages of sin, the daughter inexplicably begins levitating, the demon develops a decided mean streak, and everybody starts wearing Goth eyeshadow.
I may have to see it again.
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