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'Paranormal Activity 3's breakout appliance

How co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made oscillation terrifying

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The horror prequel had a shocking $52.6 million weekend debut. But the movie’s real surprise was its scene-stealing star — spoiler alert! — an oscillating fan.

When the character Dennis (Chris Smith) mounts a camcorder on the room cooler to set up simultaneous surveillance of the living room and kitchen, the moviegoer gets a fan’s-eye view of any unusual happenings. ”It turns out to be the perfect horror-movie camera technique,” says Henry Joost, co-director with Ariel Schulman. ”Every time it pans away, you’re like, ‘No!’ You know something’s going to happen when it’s panning away.”