Paranormal Activity 3 DVD REVIEW

House of horrors

The young Kati and Kristi, about to play game of Bloody Mary.

"Apparently if you say David Cameron's name three times he appears and claws you to death."

Release Date:
27 February 2012
2010 | 15 | 84 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (Blu-ray)/£29.99 (triple-play Blu-ray)
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schuman
Cast: Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Dustin Ingram

Making home the scariest place on the planet has been the unique selling point of the Paranormal Activity series for the past three years. Though memory of the first film’s innovative slice of pure, undiluted tension has been soured by the effect of turning it into an annual franchise, this third entry defies Hollywood’s conventional money-making formula by injecting a fresh shot of creativity into the series, courtesy of Catfish duo Joost and Schuman. In other words: it’s arse-clenchingly scary.

It’s also a prequel, jumping back to the ‘80s to show events in the childhood of Kati and Kristi, the sisters at the centre of the two previous instalments. This has a significant impact on the flimsy over-arching story connecting all three movies, but no effect whatsoever on the scares (unless you count a few questionable fashion choices). The story’s hokum. It’s these scares that impress the most. A harmless image from childhood, such as the ol’ bed-sheet ghost, suddenly becomes petrifying as the figure beneath impossibly evaporates into thin air. The “entity” is much more aggressive this time round, but the film loses none of its creeping terror. The familiar static camerawork returns for the scenes set in the girls’ bedroom, where some of the film’s most effective jumps occur, but the so-good-we-can’t-believe-no-one’s-done-it-before fancam (a camera attached to a slowly panning fan) ratchets the tension up so high you’ll be fast-forwarding the DVD to get it over with.

It’s not perfect. The story takes a big leap into the silly at the end and some of the performances demonstrate a level of artifice that don’t ring true as candid home video. Paranormal Activity 3‘s main problem is that it’s in danger of becoming too slick to convince as back-to-basics found footage. The visual trickery is always believable, but this third film escalates the “action” to such a degree that it’s difficult to imagine where they could go next. With Joost and Schuman back for this year’s fourth entry they’ll have to be very careful with how far they stretch the premise, or eventually the whole house of cameras will crumble.


The DVD (rated) contains two instantly forgettable mock out-takes – a montage of lead character Dennis’s pranks and an advert for his business. Pick up the Blu-ray and you also get an extended director’s cut (featuring some of that missing footage seen in the trailer).

Jordan Farley

For an alternate perspective on Paranormal Activity 3, read our review of the theatrical release.

Read more of our DVD reviews.