Paranormal Activity 3 scares up box office

A child’s imaginary friend is just that, imaginary. It seems like a sweet and innocuous phase, that is, until it becomes a little too real. After a family moves into a new house, one of the children makes friends with a an imaginary playmate.

Soon after, strange disturbances prompt the family patriarch to set up several cameras around the house in order to find out what their cause might be.

Paranormal Activity 3 turns the clock back 18 years, to when the previous films’ main adult characters, Katie and Kristi, were children living with their mother Julie and her boyfriend Dennis.

Gradually, chaos engulfs, as an unrelenting demonic force escalates its torment the family more each day.

Playing on our fear of things that go bump in the night, the movie makes the viewers revisit their fear the dark.

Although filled with scenes of idleness, these scenes build tension and amplify the resolution when it finally occurs.

The film does well to exploit the disturbing nature of having a stranger standing over one’s bed and stare at you for hours.

It’s a simple idea, yet watching it sped up, with the clock rushing ahead, is enough to make one squirm.

Although the series has relied on a recurring image of a person getting yanked around by an unseen force, seeing someone get dragged helplessly across the floor remains quite unsettling.

The hand-held camera angles also work well to build anticipation of a lurking threat, since it is only possible to see what is being recorded before us.

In one scene, the camera is mounted on an oscillating fan, scoping the living room and kitchen area and revealing a mysterious figure during transit.

The success of this latest installment comes primarily from character development. Each character’s personality is fleshed out and explored, which makes them more tangible and more likable in some ways.

The only oddity is the witch’s coven arc, it seems like a silly afterthought which is nevertheless thrilling enough to make the audiences jump.

Rated R, it is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and stars Katie Featherston and Sprague Grayden.

Paranormal Activity 3 is opening on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.

It broke the fall weekend box-office record, previously held by Jackass 3-D, with $52.6 million.

My Grade: B