Very few horror franchises are able to continue a storyline and expand the series mythology in a way that feels natural. Look at the Saw franchise as an example of mythology getting out of control as the series continues. Not only does Paranormal Activity 3 do a great job of expanding the mythology of the first two films in a way that makes the story more interesting, it also works as a solid standalone effort.

Paranormal Activity 3 takes us back to 1988, when series characters Katie and Kristi are young girls. Kristi has an invisible friend named Toby and the family becomes convinced Toby is real after strange events start to occur in the house. Their mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, is a wedding videographer and sets up cameras around the house to capture Toby on tape.

Paranormal Activity movies play out like the first half of a horror film. Everyone is waiting for the big reveal at the end and it never happens. You only see enough to scare you and keep your interest. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they are able to continue to build upon the mythology in interesting ways, which they have done here. Paranormal Activity 3 gives us a deeper look into the reason why the demon is following the family from the first two films. It also helps that there is more interaction between the demon and the family than in the previous movies.

I’ve been getting burnt out on the found-footage sub-genre with films like Apollo 18 and The Devil Inside, but thankfully, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman were able to mix things up just enough to keep the movie fresh. Sure, the basic elements remain the same, but there are plenty of creative scares and interesting camera techniques. Paranormal Activity 3 also does a first for the series by taking the action completely outside of the house and to a new location.

As far as acting goes, it was nice to see this movie change up the male role. In the previous films, the male lead was always the last to believe that there is a paranormal presence in the house. In Paranormal Activity 3, Dennis is the first to notice the strange activity. I was also very impressed with Jessica Tyler Brown who is cute and convincing as Kristi, the sister who has an invisible friend.

Paranormal Activity 3 is being released to home video as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack. Included in the bundle is an unrated version of the film with an additional 10 minutes of footage. A number of scenes used to sell the film in the trailers were not present in the theatrical version, so fans of the series should enjoy watching the extended cut. The release also includes a short Lost Tapes feature, which show us a more comedic side of the series. I would have liked behind-the-scenes features or director commentary, but I'm assuming they aren't releasing them to keep up with the idea of this being a found-footage film.

Those who didn’t enjoy the earlier films aren't likely to be impressed by Paranormal Activity 3, but it is a very worthy entry for fans of the series. If you're new to the Paranormal Activity franchise, this movie can still be enjoyed because it has a self-sustained storyline that doesn’t jump around like the second film did. How much life the Paranormal Activity series has remains to be seen. If they put the same care into future sequels that they put into Paranormal Activity 3, this franchise won't slow down any time soon.

Film Score: 3.5/5 Disc Score: 3/5