REVIEW: Paranormal Activity 3

Via The Movie Bros.:

A malign and murderous spirit continues to dwell within a San Diego home in this second creepy sequel to 2007′s chilling Paranormal Activity. Hoping to catch photo evidence of Bloody Mary, the residents soon become victims in their own horror film.

60 out of 100

Yes, folks, here we go with another inevitable sequel in the “Paranormal Activity” canon of films. More “Found Footage” fodder for audiences to react to feverishly in darkened theaters. And though this entry does not quite reach the inventiveness that the previous films displayed it is not without its spooky merits.

The film is a Prequel and depicts other-worldy and paranormal events that involve the two sisters, Katie and Kristi, who have had supernatural events happen to them in the previous films. It is 1988 and the young sisters are living with their mother and step-dad. The step-dad is a wedding videographer that begins to place cameras around the home (using old VHS tapes) after some mysterious events occur. Kristi seems to be the catalyst of these strange happenings as she begins to talk to a spirit named “Toby.” Of course, no one believes her about “Toby” but the occurrences continue in the home. Suffice it to say, the film does depict some very creepy events as the story unfolds.

The set up is brief and we get to the goods right away. This is what is right with the film. We get the various camera shots of the house and the anticipation begins slowly and builds up nicely. We get strange noises, levitating children and ghostly images throughout, but we have been here before and sometimes the scares do not pay off like we want. It’s as if we know what’s coming and we aren’t so creeped out after it happens. There is the proper suspense and that works well. What we felt was a weakness was the climax which involved the girl’s grandmother who hides a strange secret. Though that subplot is terrifying, things get fuzzy as we witness an ending that clears up absolutely nothing. We are left with more questions than answers as to how everything we saw relates to the sisters. We get the shocking ending which is mildly effective and serves to only confuse. But I am nitpicking. The scares are abundant and the suspense is evident throughout. It serves to creep us out and entertain like most of the better “Found Footage” films.

Daybreakers (Film, 2010)

Two-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a researcher in the year 2019, in which an unknown plague has transformed the world’s population into vampires. As the human population nears extinction, vampires must capture and farm every remaining human, or find a blood substitute before time runs out. However, a covert group of vampires makes a remarkable discovery, one which has the power to save the human race. – Lionsgate

60 out of 100

The immediate gut-reaction for a film like Daybreakers is, “Oh, great… yet another vampire film because that genre hasn’t been exploited enough over the past five years,” and to be honest, that was our reaction when we first saw trailers for this in late 2009.  The problem for Daybreakers and most likely the reason for its miserable box-office numbers ($51 million gross, foreign and domestic) is that’s also exactly how the producers marketed the film in some misguided attempt to hop on the bandwagon of the sucesses of the other popular vampire franchises such as Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.  That was a very bad marketing decision.

Daybreakers is a very original and unique twist on the vampire genre in that it’s not really a horror film at all.  It’s a classic Science Fiction story that not only deals with science as a backdrop, it also deals with the many “what if” and “how would you react” scenarios about the questions of exploitation of others for your own immortality.  How does a society preserve its humanity when mortality has been taken away?  As far as vampire films go, there is surprisingly little graphic violence until the very end of the film because, frankly, it’s really not necessary to progress the story.

Where the film ultimately suffers is that it is very short coming in at 1 hour 37 minutes.  For a science fiction story with such an original concept there is far too little exposition.  It not only leaves a lot of questions unanswered but it’s so quick that the audience doesn’t really have an opportunity to become emotionally attached to the characters or the plot.  The performances from DaFoe and Hawke and the rest of the cast are fine but you really don’t have any sense of a vested interest in any of these characters, and of course if the audience can’t relate to the characters they have no reason to really care about the story.  Interestingly enough, this promotional clip (that was not shown in the film) gives more of a back story for the plot than the entire film does.

Daybreakers, albeit not the best film, is an enjoyable film and worth your time if you like a unique Sci Fi story.   Netflix subscribers can watch it as part of their subscription through the Netflix streaming service.

Here’s the official Lionsgate trailer for Daybreakers.  This is not the thirty-second TV spot that leads you to believe that it’s just a another vampire/horror film.