Film Review: Paranormal Activity

— by Caroline on Crack

I can’t sleep. I blame it on Paranormal Activity. Now, I love a good scary movie like the next person, OK, more so than the next person, but this creepy fest took hold of me long after I left the ArcLight. Not cool! But at the same time…that’s what I loved about it!

Unlike the bazillion horror movies Hollywood has been churning out in recent years, you know the ones I’m talking about, those formulaic horror shows with cheap scares and splatter kills that only serve to make you jump out of your seat and hide behind your hair, this low-budget film with no-name actors and little-to-no special effects relies on a slow buildup and only a handful of terrifying key images that end up popping up in your brain even when you’re back safely in your bed about to fall asleep. It’s the ultimate mind fuck.

Fans of instant gratification and gore won’t like this movie. And those who hated The Blair Witch Project, which is similar in that it seems to be filmed by the actors and there is no visible antagonist, will definitely not like Paranormal Activity.

But for those who relish real fear — the kind that gives you goosebumps, makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up and scares you into the fetal position — well, you’ll love love love this movie!

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly:

With its this-is-really-happening vibe, Paranormal Activity scrapes away 30 years of encrusted nightmare clichés. The fear is real, all right, because the fear is really in you.

Paranormal Activity appears to be a basic haunted house movie but unlike those the characters can’t escape their tormentor simply by leaving the house. We’re talking personal demons here, leaving them with nowhere to run to. Eeeek!

The young couple in the film just moved into a house somewhere in San Diego. Katie (Katie Featherston) is a student into knitting and beadwork and her boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) is…well, I’m not sure what he does, just that he loves the new camera that he bought. He had initially bought it to capture the strange goings-on they’d been experiencing in the house, but in the end that need to capture those strange goings-on is what ultimately gets them in trouble.

You see, this thing in their home is a demon, not a ghost, and it feeds off negativity. It’s best to not try to antagonize it or communicate with it. At least that’s what the psychic who they hired tells them. Micah naturally takes that as a challenge, and his pride and his curiosity…well, cause him to do dumb things.

I love the reality-based nature of this movie, from its first-person camerawork to the actors using their real names to the fast-forward through footage. It makes what we witness here plausible.

It’s only at the very end where the movie unfortunately diverges from that path, leaving me, my bf and family (fans of this movie and horror films) to try and dream up alternate endings that would be more fitting with the rest of the movie.

Apparently there were two alternate endings filmed for this movie, but from the sounds of it, although they were a little more in keeping with the movie, they just weren’t as conventionally satisfying, I guess.

Regardless, I still loved Paranormal Activity and would see it again. Maybe on Halloween! It’s definitely fun seeing it in a theater with an audience. This is one of the few movies where I actually don’t mind people talking during the screening. “Micah sure is dumb,” “Maaan! Don’t open the door!” “Duuude, that is creepy.”

And when the epilogue flashed on the screen after that last scene, the folks sitting behind me asked no one in particular, “That’s it?” Little did they know that wasn’t the last of it. I’m sure they slept with all the lights on that night. I did.

Showtimes for Paranormal Activity.