Paranormal Activity 3 is a surprising film. Yes, horror films are expected to shock. Yet the beauty of this film lies in it managing to give you the creeps even after you have seen the first two. You realise that there isn't much new added to this one. That it does so without being cheeky or over the top, is its greatest strength.
After hearing strange sounds in his new house, a wedding videographer in 1988 decides to fit the house with cameras to record these paranormal activities. His younger step-daughter however seems to have befriended the paranormal entity even as the incredulous wife, despite proof, refuses to believe, that is until something scares her out of her skin.
You have seen the first two and you know how the story progresses and what happens. You are supposedly immune to the chills and fears since you know how and where it comes from. What will surprise you hence, is how this film, despite your self-assurances, manages to sneak up on you and terrorise you.
Just like the first two, this one does not aspire to explain anything to the audience. Neither does it try bigger sound or visual tricks. Instead, it relies on the proven formula and tricks of the first two films, and manages to scare you in the same surreal fashion.
Charlie Chaplin is undoubtedly the greatest filmmaker ever and will perhaps remain so till the death of cinema. The reason for this is that his films understand the importance of the purity of cinema to squeeze emotion out of its audience. What Chaplin did with the comedy genre, the Paranormal Activity series does with horror.
Yet, it was by no means the first to do so. How can anyone forget the game changer - Blair Witch Project. Yet, the difference between the two films of this series, and the three of Paranormal is that while the former tried to do something different in its sequel, the latter absolutely refuses to do so.
In playing the same tricks it played in the first, and explaining as little, or even less, it teaches one of the greatest lessons of filmmaking - that simplicity and minimalism backing a good plot can often do more than expensive visual effects and a complex plot line.
Usually, a sequel tries to outdo its original. Surprisingly, Paranormal seem to have no such aspirations with all three films relying on the same bag of tricks. That it continues to feel so fresh, is indeed the most paranormal activity in the series.