There's something to be said for giving people what they want, but in genre movieland, that strategy droops into lazy cynicism quicker than you can say Saw 3D. One or two invigorating jolts aside, that's the case with this pointless second follow-up—a prequel, no less—to Oren Peli's slow-burning 2007 suburban ghost story. Paranormal Activity 3 backtracks to 1988 to reveal (sort of) how the hauntings that plague sisters Katie and Kristi began. As youngsters in 1988, the pair (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown) endures the attention of an unseen spectral masher along with incessant taping by their mom's videographer boyfriend (Chris Smith), who's intent on getting to the bottom of the unexplained thumps, quakes, furniture rearranging, and other manifestations familiar from the first two movies. Too familiar, it turns out: This entry apes the scares from the original film and last year's far-from-great Paranormal Activity 2 so faithfully that yawns are as likely as girly shrieks. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, cashing a quick paycheck after their critical hit Catfish, try to liven things up by reintroducing the nookie and yuks that disappeared from part deux, but can't overcome the dearth of fresh ideas in Christopher B. Landon's screenplay. It hardly helps that they light and shoot the thing like a Paramount blockbuster instead of the surveillance footage it's supposed to be. The further this series drifts into corporate-franchise territory and away from Peli's inventively cheap, slyly psychosexual conception, the more reasons there are to just stay away.