M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Last month, counted down my favorite horror films from my first year of reviewing. Now it’s on to Year Two which began officially on October 1, 2011 and went through September 30, 2012. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2011 and September 30, 2012 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on October 21, 2012 and available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

Directed by Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost
Written by Christopher B. Landon
Starring Lauren Bittner, Brian Boland, Jessica Tyler Brown, Chloe Cserngey, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Katie Featherston, & Sprague Grayden

After the credits for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 rolled I turned to a friend and said, “It always gets me”–it being the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films. Yes, there are those who loathe the films for being repetitious exercises in patience. Yes, most of the endings of the film series are somewhat lackluster and serve to only inch the plot along. But I’ll be damned if I don’t jump almost out of my theater seat every time I watch these films. Having seen every PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in theaters, I have to say this is a film definitely best viewed with an audience. The wave of utter dread and silence (a feat worth note for theaters these days) that sweeps over the crowd every time night falls and the rolling camera scenes begins is something that makes the experience unique. Sitting in a crowded theater, I thought my experience watching PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 would be hell with rowdy and obnoxious idiots ruining all sense of tension and anticipation. But it’s a testament to the film that every time the lights went out in the film, you could have heard a pin drop.

By now, everyone knows the structure of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Set up a bunch of cameras. Have them film the stars while they are sleeping. Silence. Time passes. Then some scary shit happens. Wash, rinse, repeat for three films now. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 continues this trend by having a concerned step dad set up three cameras around the house to capture strange things on camera after seeing something they cannot explain on film occur after an earthquake. Having seen the previous films, we know it’s a demon/ghost thingee haunting this family. The narrative leaps back in time 18 years to follow Katie and Kristi as children. Throughout the first two films, both Katie and Kristi refer back to their youth as either something they blocked out or something they fear. Here we see where the nightmares began.

Though repetitious, PA3 introduces some interesting elements to the mix. One, the film elaborates on the theme of witchcraft that was only touched upon in the first two. This opens a new door for the series to travel through for the inevitable sequel (most likely to be released next year). Also, filmmakers Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost (who delivered another caught on video thrill ride with CATFISH last year), make some smart technical decisions placing a camera on a rotating fan which pans back and forth across the room, setting up for some absolutely terrifying sequences and adding a bit of motion to the static cams and steadiness compared with the shaky hand-helds relied on in the first two. It’s this type of ingenuity that keeps this series interesting as it proceeds from one film to the next–at least on a visual level. Finally, though I hate false jump scares, the filmmakers set up one false scare that is absolutely pants-shittingly good. It’s hilarious and expertly put together.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is more of the same. This could mean more stuff that annoys you if the first two films got on your last nerve. But for me, I found it to be another fun installment in a series that continues to provides real scares and shocks that keep me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Though most franchises like SAW seem to fall off the cliff into a big lake of ridiculousness trying to justify the need for a sequel, at least PARANORMAL ACTIVITY seems to have a narrative mapped out and a formula that continues to work. For a horror fan who loves being scared PARANORMAL ACTIVITY gets me every time and got me again this year.


THE 2011-2012 COUNTDOWN!


#23 – PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
#24 – [REC]3 GENESIS
#25 – JULIA’S EYES
#26 – MOTHER’S DAY
#27 – EL PARAMO (THE SQUAD)
#28 – INBRED
#29 – THE SLEEPER
#30 – FATHER’S DAY
#31 – THE MOTH DIARIES


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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