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Movie Review: Paranormal Activity

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Oh my. This movie seriously creeped me out. I swear, I am not sure I will ever be able to brush off a creak in a darkened house the same way again.

My understanding of house-based noises has been corrupted. I am sure I will be able to get through it, but a door has been opened in the back of my mind. Could there be something out there creeping through my house? Is that shadow dancing on the wall merely a trick of the light or something more? When my keys are found on the floor or in a slightly different place than where I thought I placed them, is that my mind playing tricks on me or something more malevolent?

I can't say for sure one way or the other that I believe in paranormal phenomena, ghosts, poltergeists, or aliens. With that said, I can say that I am intrigued by the possibility. I am not ready to completely write them off. I mean that would be silly, wouldn't it? There is so much about this world that we do not understand that to eliminate anything out of hand would be arrogant and presumptuous.

Paranormal Activity plays a lot like The Blair Witch Project.

It is shot with a single camera, and told by unknown actors whose characters share their names. It also requires a certain level of audience participation. The film is being marketed in a similar fashion as well. They want you to believe this is real, or at least a recreation of real events.

I suspect that this movie will evoke similar reactions to Blair Witch as well. People will either love it or hate it. The most important thing to take with you into the theater is a willingness to believe. You have to let yourself go, and become involved with the characters and what is going on. Once you are able to do that, the movie gets under your skin fast and takes residence in the deepest recesses of the mind, opening an unmarked door and allowing a little fear to infect the synapses of your mind.

On the surface, Paranormal Activity seems to be a little too simple. At its core it is a haunted house story. A couple move into a house and strange things begin to happen to them, and they try to figure out what is going on. Nothing to it, right? Seen it a million times before, right? Give this a shot, you may find yourself surprised by what you find. You see, this movie is genuinely scary.

Everything is shot through one camera, either held by one of the two primary actors, or set on a stationary tripod. The depicted events escalate through a variety of distant noises and other non-threatening phenomena all the way to actual interactions with the characters. It is a very effective build up.

Man. I cannot get over how creepy this movie is. From the opening frame I was hooked, dragged along for the ride and spat out into the lobby, shaken, quiet, disconcerted. It has been quite some time since a movie has gotten to me like that. Yes, there have been other movies to disturb and shock me, but there was just something about Paranormal Activity that feels more real.

The movie was shot on digital video and has a very homemade feel to it. It is a low-budget film, and that works in its favor. It looks real. On top of that, there is good acting from the small cast. That is saying something considering we really only have two people talking for the majority of the film. Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat star as Katie and Micah (naturally), and they have real chemistry. The dialog sounds real, so real that it is hard to believe it is scripted and that is very hard to do.

Bottomline. Do not wait for this. If it is in your area make sure you see it. The movie is very well made, has just the right pacing, and will leave you in stunned silence followed by a desire to talk about it. Go see it, then come back and share your experience.

Highly Recommended.

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About Draven99

  • Snoochyboo

    I’m only halfway through this movie right now. I won’t jump on the “the acting is bad the story is bad” train.

    I will say this movie is well done in the way it envoked some emotion, but it envoked the wrong emotions! I’m not scared, or even slightly tense. I’m just pissed, Micah is such a piece of shit! he’s an antagonizing wannabe alpha male who I really hope dies in the end. Katie (or just Katies rackal area) should have had a bit more screen time, but only so that I’d have something nice to look at and hold my attention.
    There are a few creepy bits. but nothing too fantastical, the ouija board was fun… thats all I’ll say…
    I really hope the second one is better… and I’m glad I didn’t pay money to see this.

  • monsterchops

    Well, what can i add to whats already been said. This movie is truely appaling!! The acting is high school standard at best. I actually laughed really loud when she got dragged out of bed. that was the most entertaining part. An hour and 37 minutes I will never get back.

  • Jerome Nighting

    I was shocked at how awful this movie was. Watching paint dry would have been a more enjoyable activity.

  • Amanda

    Most boring movie ever.I am glad i rented it and only paid a dollar cuz i fast forwarded through almost everything. Some parts were scary but it took 15 minutes to get to each scary part. Will never recommend this movie.

  • heather

    Simplicity is good in my opinion. This movie gave me the most intense scare I’ve experienced in a long time. Not so much a shock factor as opposed to the switch it sets off in the back of your mind. It feels real, thus you subconsciously begin to question your environment. I’m not really religious but the concepts of some vulgar, monstrous, inhuman entity out to get you is frightening no matter who you are. I’m sick of gore horror and this mind teaser was long due.

  • Oh, btw Chris. I see you went the other way with choosing an Amazon image. I almost went with Blair Witch as well, but then went with the Val Lewton collection instead. I really think PA takes a loving look back at a time when horror was about atmosphere and tension and waiting for something to happen.

  • Well, I found the movie a very scary and well-crafted classic as well as one possessing a deeply resonant subtext. Keep in mind folks that very few horror films in history have been about what they appear to be about.

  • “I suspect that this movie will evoke similar reactions to Blair Witch as well. People will either love it or hate it.”

    Glad to see I was right about something….

  • Moz

    Oh god this movie must be THE most boring movie ever made,scary? waking up the the wife gives me more scares.you see hype really does work,and the people who have said “they cried” when they saw it must be mentally ill,or pizzed they wasted an hour or so watching this pile of dog doings.
    If your terrified of “loud” footsteps or self raising flour you might like it.

  • Thom

    I am not a skeptic or anything but this movie was a bad movie. It was boring and had everything else in it that makes a bad movie.

  • Matt

    I agree with the last three people, the movie was awful. I think the movie could be better if you were watching it by yourself at home.

  • kacey

    Paranormal Activity is a waste of money and a waste of time. The acting is poor and the plot even worse. The movie theater was full and no one jumped or screamed. In fact, the majority of the audience appeared bored. I know I was.

  • purple pumpkin

    I totally agree with milliekat…I spent more time preparing to be scared than being scared. I’ll admit I was at the edge of my chair in suspense but to grave disappointment. I don’t get all the hype!! You’re a whimp if this can scare you. I’ll admit tho, I was thinking about it right before bed and it was a little freaky.

  • milliekat

    i would have given paranormal activity three thumbs down if i would have had an extra to spare. the trailer was phenomenal it actually gave me chills, sadly after reviewing the movie the trailer seemed to be the most thrilling part. in first light the movie was very believable but when certain scenes were played the acting was not genuine and the movements of the events happening were not as believable for the mind to comprehend. this is not coming from a non believer, there are other things out there but this movie does not portrait it the correct way. scenes were very drawn out, and not dramatic enough. the movie kept you waiting for something to happen then it would highly disappoint the audience when no results were given, this particular audience found the movie to be some what comedy, given this was an audience ranging between the ages of 25-50 and not a room full of teens there should have been more fear than laughter. Sadly there were no moments where anyone jumped in fear that this could happen to them. As a member of the audience this movie was supposed to bring fear and beliefs beyond the screen, the kind where you go home and look under beds and in closets before turning out the light and in no way did it instill that fear into the human mind.

  • I’ll have to pass on this one, Chris. ALL scary movies give me the creeps and nightmares too boot!

  • This sounds so awesome! Can’t wait to see it! Great review!

  • I’ve been hearing about this movie everywhere. It’s playing at the midnight movie theater about an hour away. We’re going this weekend.

    I can’t wait! And your great review has just whet my appetite even more. I’ll now have someone to blame if the evening ends with my sleeping in my car.

  • I hate scary movies, but this movie was incredible. It scared the crap outta me and it was so simple. Katie Featherston’s boobs were fantastic as well. They were the only things keeping me from covering my eyes.

  • bad bad bad movie

    really bad not worth talking about!!!!!

  • I am drawn to movies and books like this, but then my own imagination usually takes it a step further. The result is that I end up tormented by nightmares for days, allowing my imagination to run free, yet often inspiring new story ideas for my own writing.

    Thanks for the movie review. I’ll keep an eye out for it.