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Reel Critics: ‘Paranormal’ petrifies for the third time

“Paranormal Activity 3" gives us an exquisite sense of dread, the anticipation and fear of things that go bump in the night in an eerie, bloodless way. We want it; we expect it (especially if we’ve seen “PA1" and “PA2"). And we are not disappointed.

As a prequel to a prequel, the story takes us back to 1988 when the main characters Katie and Kristi are just normal little girls, and their mom doesn’t think it’s unusual they have an imaginary friend named Toby.

Strange things start happening, including some great “gotcha!” moments. Mom’s new husband has his own photography business and sets up video cameras around the house to capture it all on tape.

Much of “PA3" is quietly seeing what the cameras see and waiting for the inevitable to make us cover our eyes and whimper. It was like riding in the first car on a roller coaster — the fear of what was coming made me want to jump out, but I knew I couldn’t.


I don’t scare easily as a rule, but “Paranormal Activity 3" made it unsettling to walk out into the foggy night afterward. Thankfully, there were no demons waiting for me in the closet at home, and I was safe. For now.


Nothing new to see in ‘Three Musketeers’

The latest version of “The Three Musketeers” has every technical advantage in movie making.


It has top-notch production values, cinematography and great costume design. It also has first rate special effects and big studio backing by Summit Entertainment, known for their “Twilight” franchise.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson delivers the predictable formula screenplay. The acting is competent, if heavy handed. There’s plenty of swordplay and wise-cracking jokes during the fight scenes.

But the political intrigue between the French and English monarchs is simplistic and childish. And the details of the story are all too silly to take seriously.

This swashbuckling movie is professionally made and packaged. If you seek a mindless example of this genre, you might like this one. But you’ve seen everything in this movie many times before and done better. It’s another sequel made only because the previous movies made money.

This one totally bombed by taking in only $8.8 million at the box office. That’s a disastrous opening for a film that cost $75 million to make. It’s a well deserved failure that I hope puts the tedious series to rest.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.