Why Do Audiences Hate ‘Paranormal Activity 3?’

The Projector

So "Paranormal Activity 3" is a huge hit, and its success has essentially assured that we're going to someday see "Paranormal Activity 27," in which a camera-obsessed spaceman dad sets up shuttle surveillance feeds to discover what's haunting Katie Featherston's great-great children. We may be exhausted by that come 2035, but now, considering we think this is the best of the three films so far, we're all right with it. So why do audiences dislike the film so much?

Sure, it doesn't seem they dislike it: It did make a dungload of money this weekend, after all. But that bugger Cinemascore -- which, while unreliable by nature, still gives a helpful glimpse into what Joe Multiplex thinks of your average wide release -- notes that audiences weren't crazy about it at all; they gave it a C+, the worst score yet for a "Paranormal Activity" movie and a truly wretched grade in the weight system of CinemaScore. A C+ is basically like getting a D from our letter grade system -- we're gonna do an exhausting, exhausting explanation of our letter grade system for you someday; it's in fact quite scientific -- and bodes poorly for the film's box office in coming weeks.

So, why did it do so poorly? Well, first, it's important to remember that audiences, on the whole, have pretty lousy taste. (Sorry, it's true.) Take a look at the top CinemaScore grades this year. ("Zookeeper" got an A-. Freaking "Zookeeper.") But more to the point, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, horror films almost always do poorly on CinemaScore ratings. This is part of the fun of horror movies, we think; even when horror movies are good, as an audience, we sort of want them to be bad. We want to feel smarter than the characters, and we want to feel like we are being manipulated, rather than moved. We suspect that a large percentage of the people who went to see "Paranormal Activity 3" this weekend and were polled afterwards were scared out of their wits for 90 minutes, and then, when asked about it, said, "aw, that sucked!" while smiling and laughing at the silliness of it all. That's sort of the point.

'Paranormal Activity 3' on Course for Jaw-Dropping $45 Mil to $50 Mil Weekend [The Hollywood Reporter]