Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
"Paranormal" reveals itself for what it has become, the "Saw" of found video thrillers.
Joost and Schulman sustain a consistent sense of dread, playing with our own fears of things that go bump in the night.
The filmmakers throw in a few cheesy scares: mom in a monster mask, a baby sitter jumping in front of a camera. But the rest is pretty freaking cool.
"Paranormal Activity 3'' has no interest in art. It just wants to give you the willies with a minimum of gore and a maximum of camcorder dread, and it succeeds.
Still, cheap it may be, but it's not particularly graphic, so it's got that going for it. And in any case, scares are scares, even if they are cheap.
This third Paranormal is a prequel that occasionally goes off the rails but also offers more laughs and somewhat more character development than the previous installments.
The Paranormal Activity movies are built on fundamental horror concepts, and those fundamentals still hold.
It's not so much a movie as it is a cinematic cardio exam, with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the guys who made "Catfish," pounding away again and again to see how much your heart can take.
The bottom line, for me, is this: I don't scare easily at horror films (that's one of the reasons I tend to pan them), but I watched Paranormal Activity 3 in a state of high anxiety.
For better or worse, this is more of the same, if creepier than it was the last time around.
Although not exactly breaking any new ground with its by now all too familiar found-footage format, Paranormal Activity 3 hews to the formula in expertly crafted fashion, mustering up the requisite scares and then some.
If you haven't seen the first two movies, why are you watching this? And if you have seen the first two movies, why do you need to watch this?
New York Daily News:
There are only so many times bodies can be dragged out of frame and tables levitated before the biggest scare of all is the threat of tedium.
New York Post:
The shtick movie "Paranormal Activity 3" is the horror equivalent of vaudeville comedy: a little patter, a little pie in the face, repeat.
If the goal is to generate howls of both laughter and terror, Paranormal Activity 3 falls short. It's too by-the-numbers.
Inexplicably, there are people who still haven't had enough of these movies. The first was a nifty novelty. Now the appeal has worn threadbare.
Two movies later, even die-hard supporters are going to find all this stuff dully familiar.
Series creator Oren Peli and his conscripts have managed to do it again, but you have to wonder how far they can continue to push this found-footage angle.
Paranormal Activity 3 earns points for its low-key ability to keep viewers primed over long stretches to expect that something very bad, or even worse, may happen at any moment.
There's something to be said for giving people what they want, but in genre movieland, that strategy droops into lazy cynicism quicker than you can say Saw 3D.