By Steve Herte
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
If somebody knows why this series lasted to two sequels, please let me know. The only reason I gave it any rating at all (one-third of one Martini glass out of five) was because I couldn’t believe anybody had the nerve to create something this bad. Story: Dennis and his wife Julie live in this perfectly gorgeous house that nobody but the upper middle class can afford (Dennis can’t afford it either) with their two adorable daughters Katie and Chrissa. It doesn’t matter who played what part, you really don’t want to know. Dennis is obsessive about video cameras (otherwise, the movie would really never have been made and he might have been able to afford the house) and sets one up in their daughters’ bedroom, the master bedroom and even figures out how to attach one to a multi-directional fan to cover the kitchen and living room downstairs.
What he doesn’t plan on is his youngest daughter’s invisible friend Toby getting bugged at a refusal by the child to do what he requests, so he wreaks havoc on everybody but Mommy (until almost the end). Up to that point she blames Dennis for her hysterical children. And…it doesn’t go away when they move into her mother Lois’ house. Oooh, bad karma as well as bad camera.
If you have the patience to sit through this film, get ready for endless stretches of non-activity interspersed with stupidity and occasional flashes of lame horror. Forgive me for not having seen 1 and 2, but 3 should never have been made and I’m thinking the same should have been for 1 and 2. I was actually happy when pay-per-view froze after one and a half hours and went back to the menu.
A Stone’s Throw
2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington D.C.
Speaking of horror, imagine my surprise when the steakhouse where I thought I was dining was actually in the Marriott! I steeled myself as I trudged uphill to one of the two bastions of higher-priced-than-worth-it rooms and wondered what had I gotten myself into this time.
The Captain’s Station had nobody staffing it (surprise, surprise) and two tables of customers were waiting to be seated before me. There was no computer to verify reservations. They recruited staff from Harry’s Bar to tend to those misfortunate enough to press on.
The sweet but elderly Eleni handed me the menu and took my order for my martini while relating an uninspired cod fish main special and a cream of mushroom soup appetizer. After seeing how uninteresting the other soups were, I chose the mushroom soup. It was definitely creamy, with decent slices of button mushrooms and shredded spinach – not a bad dish.
I decided to make it a three-course meal because I saw something else interesting – the Grilled Meat Balls. These were definitely flavored as if a Greek chef had made them and were served in a covered dish, in tomato sauce with onions. Again, not great, but not bad.
Not trusting the other main courses and still thinking this to be a steakhouse, I chose the Filet Mignon and specified how I like it cooked. I also specified to leave off the mashed potatoes (hate them) and if possible, to bring French fries instead. My waitress looked like she understood. My poor filet was leaning on a Devil’s Tower of mashed potatoes and sided with huge cold sliced carrots and some other yellow-root vegetable. I piled the offending potatoes onto my bread dish (the bread was only so-so) and notified my waitress, who brought the fries and took the blob away. At this point the manager (if I may call him so) appeared and offered me a glass of wine, which I accepted (Cabernet-Sauvignon) – it was indeed very good. By the way, the filet was also good, not steakhouse quality, but good.
I was terrified of dessert. Of the six listed, I only could chance two and decided on the one with the obvious misspelling on the menu (and explained it to my waitress) – the Chocolate Dolce de Leche Tart (it should be Dulce to be completely Spanish and not half Italian) – served with a strawberry meringue and a mixed berry, chocolate sauce. What came out was a hard, three-inch, tasteless chocolate cup, filled with hard, flavorless beige concrete, and topped with a half-inch round of artificially flavored strawberry fluff topped with one strawberry sliced in half. There were two sad raspberries and two blackberries in the drizzle of (really good) chocolate syrup. I ate the fluff (which reminded me of my penny candy days) and the two half strawberries on top and left the rest, suggesting to the waitress that if anybody else orders it, she should tell them they were out of it.
I got my check as soon as I could and left, hoping the bar in my hotel could clear my palate. No recommendation here.