Growing up, I have been exposed to my fair share of horror films. I’m always on the lookout for that ONE movie. The one that is going to scare me senseless and make me sleep with the lights on. After I saw the previews and read the feedback that was being posted on Twitter, I thought this might be the one to do just that.
Paranormal Activity follows Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat as they document strange disturbances that are going on in their house. After Katie starts to experience a presence in the house, her boyfriend Micah, buys a video camera to record 24 hours a day. Things go downhill from there. Needless to say, there is something definitely not right going on in that house.
I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Paranormal Activity is being compared to The Blair Witch Project, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie is filmed in the same way, using the hand held camera aspect. If you had a problem watching Blair Witch or Cloverfield for that matter, you may have trouble with this one as well. A good portion of the film is a scary version of late night drunk cam. The rest of the film, the camera is either positioned on a tri-pod or it’s just sitting on a counter.
The film also begins by making it seem as if it’s based on actual events. The marketing campaign isn’t quite what was rolled out for Blair Witch, but for someone who doesn’t have any knowledge of this film they may possibly think it is indeed a true story. The way it was filmed adds to that aspect as well as the fear that you see and feel from the actors.
Shooting on a shoestring budget in his own home, Oren Peli does a great job of bringing the scare. He understands that what you can’t see is scarier than what you can see. The anticipation and suspense are tangible and even the smallest things, like someone just standing still, is enough to make you squirm.
I also have to give props to Featherston and Sloat. If you didn’t know any better you would think they were an actual couple and were really going through this horrible ordeal. The fear, panic, anger and frustration are all conveyed with realism and their performances are authentic. I simultaneously felt awful for what Katie was going through, while also wanting to give Micah a good ole fashioned beat down.
Like Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity may not get to you in the theater, but it will creep up on you later. As you’re laying in bed your mind inevitably wanders to a scene in the film that sends you to the edge of panic while you try your hardest to think of good things like cupcakes and puppies and rainbows. Then you think you hear something or feel something brush by you and you’re in the throes of panic again. One of my friends that I saw this movie with slept with all the lights on that night…..and we went to the an early afternoon showing.
Surprisingly this film has been around for a couple of years, but is just now finding it’s glory. Total Film did a great feature on the story behind the movie and how it came to be. The final page of the article talks about the ending so consider yourself warned if you haven’t seen it yet. If you’re interested in checking out feedback from other movie goers, check out the Twitter feed that has been running almost non-stop. You are encouraged to tweet your reaction to the film to @TweetYourScream. Reading the different responses has been interesting and has helped build buzz so be sure to check it out.
To wrap it up, I really enjoyed Paranormal Activity. I was able to sleep but it took effort to get it out of my head before I crawled into my bed for the night. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have been longing for a film to scare me, and while it didn’t scare me senseless, it definitely delivered. The feedback I’ve read is that the best environment to experience this film is in a full theater. Unfortunately when I saw it, the theater was somewhat empty. The gasps we heard were mostly coming from me….I’ll admit it.
If you like a good horror movie…especially at this time of year, then I would highly recommend Paranormal Activity. Hopefully you’ll get the scare you’re after and you may also just walk out with a new found respect for ouija boards and things that go bump in the night.