*** (out of four)
Anything’s better than another “Saw” movie. And now that its franchise’s formula isn’t just nothing-nothing-nothing-door-slams-nothing-nothing-big-jolt-movie-over, the much-improved “Paranormal Activity 3” earns compliments other than, “At least no one gets their guts ripped out by an elaborate piece of sadistic engineering.”
Taking it back to 1988—and popping in Teddy Ruxpin, Spud Webb and MacGyver references to make sure we don’t forget this is a prequel to a prequel—directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (“Catfish”) deliver more variety than their predecessors in pursuit of suspense. That generates less predictability and a giddier sense of nervous anticipation, even though we know young Katie (played as a child by Chloe Csengery) has a nasty future ahead of her, documented in the boring parts 1 and 2.