Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Shulman
Starring: Lauren Bittner, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Dustin Ingram
During Paranormal Activity 2, Kristi and her husband believe their house was buglarized. As we know from the previous two movies in this franchise, an evil spirit has followed Kristi and her sister Katie into their current houses. This spirit has traveled with them their whole lives ever since they were children. In Paranormal Activity 3, an old box of VHS tapes from their childhood goes missing after the supposed "break-in". The timeline of the series shifts to the past as we view those videotapes. Kristi and Katie are young little girls living with their mom, Julie (Bitten), and her boyfriend, Dennis (Smith). Like most young kids, Kristi has an imaginary friend, Toby, that she has tea parties with and shares secrets with. Toby threatens her to not tell her parents about of these secrets. One night Dennis and Julie decide to video-tape themselves as they engage in some sexual activities. Before they get too far into it, an earthquake shakes their house and stuff goes flying everywhere. Dennis starts to re-watch the tape and notices, for a brief second, the dust falling from the ceiling takes the shape of a figure before it settles to the ground. He's convinced there was a spirit that walked through the room. Dennis sets up three video cameras around the house to catch whatever is happening. There is one in the girls' bedroom, one in the master bedroom, and one positioned on an oscillating fan that scans the living room and kitchen areas. Is it Kristi's mysterious imaginary friend Toby or something worse all together?
After how many entries into a horror movie can a premise still be scary? I think that the third outing is the least scary in the franchise. I will give the filmmakers credit for choosing the oscillating fan technique over the security camera. There is some suspense as you wait for the camera frame to shift from the kitchen to the living room. You wait to see if someone is standing in the background or if something jumps into the frame. Origin stories are not new to the horror genre. I do think it was a smarter choice than having Katie haunt some new family in the house which easily could have been the route the filmmakers could have taken. While the ending was suspenseful and chilling, there weren't as many jumps and shocking moments throughout the movie as the first two had. Maybe I'm just getting immune to these types of scares. Will Paranormal Activity be the next Saw where each Halloween you get a new entry in the series? It is sure looking that way. Will I still go see a fourth anyway? Probably.
RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)
THE IDES OF MARCH
Director: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is young hot-shot political junior campaign manager working for Governor of Pennsylvania Mike Morris (Clooney). Governor Morris one of two democratic candidates vying for the presidency. As strong and smart as Stephen is, he can't seem to stay out of trouble throughout the campaign trail. He starts a sexual relationship with an intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood). Molly is no innocent young lady. After learning of a secret involving Molly and Governor Morris, Stephen's morals are shaken. Stephen takes a meeting with rival campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Giamatti). Paul suggests to Stephen that he should switch teams and work for the other campaign. Word leaks to the press about the meeting. Stephen learns this his own senior campaign manager (Hoffman) is the one that leaked the news and then fires Stephen from Morris' campaign. Stephen must decide if he wants to exploit the secret that he knows and ruin his own reputation and Morris' campaign , join the other team, or walk away with his head in the air.
You can't help but draw comparisons to the Clinton administration and the Obama administrations when watching this movie. Most of Govenor Morris' advertising is directly in the same style as Obama's. Clooney directed, co-wrote, and is part of the ensemble. Even though he's considered one of the main stars, he appears on screen less than you would have expected. The movie presents a very strong commentary on politics, campaigns, and the backstabbing that goes along with it. It's unfortunate how crooked and shady many keys players can be no matter how likable they seem on the outside. Overall great ensemble work by Clooney, Gosling, Giamatti, Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei. The only weak link is Evan Rachel Wood. She is so wooden and boring in a role that could be more fiendish and devilish. Big props for Ryan Gosling. Three great movies in one year.
RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)