First widely introduced by The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity popularized the new sub-genre of horror films with the camera as part of the diegetic world of the film. Furthermore, the Paranormal Activity films have acquainted Bay Area audiences with the ‘camera as surveillance’ giving the illusion of an eerily objective camera, but strictly subjective view.
Though the technique of capturing life as it unfolds before a still camera is not a new idea as it dates back to the early days of cinema with the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès, Paranormal Activity uses this technique to instill fear as the audience desires to look away, but is forced to watch.
The newest film of the Paranormal Activity series, just released in the Bay Area October 21, 2011 takes the surveillance camera a step further, giving it a restricted range of motion, the oscillation of a household fan. This amplifies the tension more than a static camera as it reveals a setting larger than the capacity of the lens which the viewer can only see in pieces as the camera pans along its motorized track.
A glowing bulb hangs in the frame and continues humming out of frame as the camera moves to a mother in the kitchen. The tension builds with the anticipation of what happens off screen; the action continues but, the viewer must wait in suspense, subject to the movement of the camera. As children in the third film, sisters Katie and Kristy have encounters with the demon who haunts them in the first and second films which are documented by their mother’s boyfriend, a wedding photographer. Paranormal Activity 3 gives us a foundation to the reason behind the hauntings and draws us further into the disturbing saga.
In an era of remakes, sequels, prequels, copies, and digital reproductions, the idea of something original has almost become obsolete. The ingenuity in today’s digital world lies in the arrangement of pre-existing assets and techniques to make an original work or interpretation. Paranormal Activity 3 is not only a sequel, but the 3rd film in a trilogy (and there may be more) and yet it manages to still experiment with film structure and apparatus to deliver an impact to Bay Area audiences. The Bay Area film goer can expect yet another twist in the Paranormal Activity Series in Paranormal Activity 3.