Release Date: October 21, 2011 | Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

It appears the Paranormal Activity franchise is committed to releasing a new installment every Halloween. I’m fine with this as long as the movies stay fresh and exciting. This year’s Paranormal Activity 3 (PA3) was a nice bite-size treat of scary goodness. I say ‘bite-size’ because the movie clocks in at 1 hour and 24 minutes, but the action starts very quickly and doesn’t let up.

PA3 is a prequel for the first two movies: in PA1 we see Katie (Katie Featherston) and her boyfriend Micah battle a demon in their apartment. In PA2, Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) is a new mommy who tries to protect her newborn son from the (same?) demon. Here in PA3 we see where the trouble begins: Kristi begins talking to an imaginary friend named Toby, and throughout the movie Toby becomes violent and forceful enough to make his presence known to Kristi’s entire family.

What I really enjoyed in this movie were the characters. Julie (Lauren Bittner) is Kristi’s and Katie’s mother who is fed up with Kristi’s constant talk about Toby. Julie’s live in boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) is the first to suspect that Toby is a demon and sets up cameras around the home.

Let me say this: Dennis is an essential character. He comes up with a very creative way to videotape the downstairs area of the home, and through this he gives the viewers some of the scariest moments of the entire film.

I think PA3 is easily the best of the series so far. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the folks who brought us the creepy ‘Catfish’ movie) are directing this time around, and they found excellent ways to create suspension and tension when absolutely nothing is happening onscreen. If you enjoyed the previous ‘Paranormal’ movies you will love this installment, and if you didn’t scare for the previous ones (especially PA2, which is understandable) then catch this one at the dollar theater and see if it doesn’t change your mind about the franchise.