Paranormal Activity 3



Slightly more violent prequel connects the first two movies.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: October 21, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In these movies, bad things can suddenly start happening to good people, simply because a past relative did something bad.

Positive role models

Of the men in this series, Dennis is by far the most admirable. He really loves Julie and takes care of her daughters from a previous marriage as if they were his own. He's responsible and works hard to solve problems.


There's perhaps slightly more violence in this movie than in the previous two; in a couple of scenes, an invisible force attacks a young girl, lifting her up by the hair or dragging her across the floor. An unseen force also snaps a character's spine. There's a teeny bit of blood (a scratch). Otherwise, the violence is mostly suggested, and the movie has an almost constant feeling of dread.


An adult couple decides to videotape themselves having sex. They both wear T-shirts and underwear. They kiss and begin some foreplay, but they're interrupted. Also additional kissing and lots of "I love yous."


"F--k" is heard perhaps a dozen times, with "s--t" coming in a close second. "Oh my God" and "goddamn" are also used.


A box of Rice Krispies is visible in one shot.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The grown-up couple smokes some pot and gets high; the mother mentions that it's illegal and that she doesn't want her daughters to know.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is -- a prequel to both Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 -- attempts to explain the events that led up to the terrors in those two movies. Like the others, it's told in fake documentary style, mostly via surveillance camera footage. The scary stuff is left largely to the imagination (and there's a near-constant sense of dread as a result), though this movie has a little more on-screen violence than the previous films did: An invisible force terrorizes two young girls, lifting one up by the hair and dragging her across the floor. Language is strong but not frequent and includes many uses of "f--k" and "s--t." A loving couple attempts to tape themselves having sex, though they only get as far as some foreplay, with clothes on. They also smoke pot.

What's the story?

In a quick prologue, set in 2005, Katie (Katie Featherston) drops off a box of old videotapes to be stored in her sister Kristi's basement. The content on these tapes consists of 1988 footage of young Katie (the main character of Paranormal Activity) and Kristi (the main character of Paranormal Activity 2). As kids, the girls live with their mother Julie (Lauren Bittner) and Julie's loving boyfriend, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). Kristi starts spending time with a sinister-sounding "imaginary friend," Toby, and strange, terrifying things start happening in the house. Dennis videotapes everything, but is anyone really prepared for the true horror behind it all?

Is it any good?


Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the minds behind the quasi-documentary Catfish, take over as directors on this third entry in the Paranormal Activity series, staying true to the earlier films' style. Wide, unmoving images from surveillance cameras provide endless dread and suspense, never indicating just where the next shock is going to come from. The movie's most ingenious invention is a moving camera, mounted on an electric fan base; as it moves mechanically back and forth, important information moves helplessly, automatically out of frame, and viewers must wait anxiously to see more.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 continues the broken/mixed family dynamic of the previous two films, but the characters here are more sharply drawn and more sympathetic; this family has a more loving feel. The main drawback is the plot. Still somewhat ambiguous, it tries to explain everything and conclude the series. But that conclusion is a bit unsatisfying, more like a whimper than a bang. Overall, though, the movie definitely provides strong chills.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence, both implied and shown. Which kind is more powerful? Why?

  • How scary was the movie? What scared you most, and why?

  • What would be the effect of constantly filming your life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 21, 2011
DVD release date:January 23, 2012
Cast:Christopher Nicholas Smith, Katie Featherston, Lauren Bittner
Directors:Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some violence, language, brief sexuality and drug use

This review of Paranormal Activity 3 was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybarbiexxbby October 24, 2011

my thoughts on the movie

i think it mostly tries to tie the movies together but does a horrible job at it. it seems like they tried too hard at that and failed at it. many of the scenes mentioned in the first and second movie didn't come up. it did do a good job of explaining why this demon was haunting them. overall it leaves more questions than answers
What other families should know
Great messages
Educator and Parent of a 13 and 15 year old Written bybethkaper October 23, 2011

too scary for kids under 17

We decided to let our 15.5 year old go to this movie as a bit of a test. Both my husband and I went with our son. I think because there are cameras involved the kids "think" it's real. We saw the movie last night and around 2:30am he came into our room not able to sleep and not interested in sleeping due to the movie. So this morning we sat him down and explained why certain movies are rated "R" and he understands now and isn't interested in seeing another "R" rated movie.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bykiwiapplepie October 21, 2011

worth watching. less scary than it looks


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