It isn’t too often that a low-budget independent film gets the amount of hype and sees the amount of success Paranormal Activity has found. After its premier and its initial positive impressions as well as a few shots of audience reactions the internet film whores began building a hype train that no one could stop. An online feature that allowed people around America to “Demand” the film be brought near them showed staggering results, and as a result the movie is now playing in theaters nation-wide.
Unable to resist the hype, both Zac Pritcher and John Rogers decide to spend their hard earned money on a trip to local cinema to see if it’s worth all it has been cut out to be.
Let’s face it, you definitely know at least one person who has already seen this movie. It has received more hype than any indie film in my recollection, and now that it’s screening nationwide people are experiencing what many are calling the scariest movie ever made. This isn’t the first time a movie has been hailed in such a way, and I was expecting it to be just another let down.
With all of the overwhelming hype on the internet, I knew that I would eventually break down. Finally, I did something that I haven’t done in a long time. I gave into the hype and spent the staggering $9.50 on a ticket. After I had purchased my ticket and sat down in the theater I began to almost regret it. As soon as the movie was over though, any doubt it my mind had been completely washed away. Paranormal Activity is a superb film, and definitely worth every cent I paid to see it.
Odds are that you have some idea what Paranormal Activity is, but if you don’t here are the basics. The film is a horror mockumentary in the same vein as The Blair Witch Project that documents a couple’s experience with a demonic presence in their home. Unlike the latter, Paranormal Activity is a lot more stable, and the camera is often stationary which saved me a bad headache. The movie also improves on several other factors that limited Blair Witch”s effect.
Paranormal Activity is filmed by a young couple who seek to find out more about a presence that is haunting their home. They speak with a psychic who quickly deduces that they are dealing with a demon, and should make sure not to antagonize it by fighting or producing negative energy. The couple continue filming their room at night and trying a variety of experiments in order to discover why the demon is after them, and how to get rid of it.
The first and most important factor of a movie such as this is the acting. The two main characters, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) present the film in such a realistic way that you really do become a part of the movie. The two relatively unknown actors are so natural in their banter and so realistic in their fear and anger that you begin to believe that the events in the movie are no longer fiction. Supporting actors are far and few, but they play their roles very well and help support story progression.
With such great acting, the movie has good merit to avoid flashy CGI or cheesy story lines. It simply cuts right to the chase, and in the process leaves people in the audience horrified. It is indeed common to hear many screams and people gasping for breath throughout the movie. The movie is so intense in parts that people are allegedly leaving during the film, it’s that scary.
The movie isn’t without flaws however, as is to be expected. The story progression is a bit slow in order to build suspense, but it becomes just a tad boring in parts. The over result of this formula however, is completely effective. By the time the climax of the film is reached, you have already been wound tight by the earlier scenes.
The movies sound is nothing short of masterful and completely natural. The creepy sounds during night scenes are enough to make your skin crawl.Tons of subtle little bits of sound are hidden in the movie that help to set the mood even if you don’t notice them all the time. The overall tone of the movie is further bolstered by a deep demonic pitch that appears whenever the presence is at work.
Despite the film’s low budget, everything in the movie is surprisingly well done. The effects are simple and as effective as any expensive CGI could be. The production value of the movie is excellent, and everything fits together very well. With all of the underlying sound effects, scary-good acting, and already scary plot idea, Paranormal Activity comes off better then most big budget films have in recent years.
I honestly can say this much, Paranormal Activity is the scariest movie I have seen in years. The hype might cause some disappointment for some people, but almost everyone will find something in this movie that leaves them disturbed for days. This is, without a doubt, the scariest movie you’ll see for a long, long time. I highly recommend seeing it in theaters, to get the full experience and bringing someone who won’t mind you wrenching their arm off in fright.
Score: 9.0/10 (Outstanding)
Let me start by saying that this movie is definitely the scariest and most effective horror film I’ve seen in a good long while. It’s scary on an entirely different level than most of the modern day scary movies out there because it keeps everything natural. No CG, very few special effects, and a premise that just about anybody can relate to helps make Paranormal Activity the most believable horror film in years, and it is a very refreshing experience.
This level of realness is increased by the fantastic acting. Katie and Micah create two very real, very scared individuals that almost everyone can relate with on some level. Their conversations seem so natural that you’ll soon be able to forget you’re watching a movie and you will allow yourself to be sucked even further into the experience.
As John has already stated, the simplicity of this movie is what makes it so scary. You never see the demon that is haunting the young woman, but you know it’s there. Unexplainable noises and strange occurrences during the night has happened to all of us, and this film effectively captures on everyone’s fear of the unexplainable, made even more effective by how easy it is to relate to the film.
Another way this movie scares the piss out of the audience is by getting their imagination running at full speed. For myself and everyone I’ve talked to, it was very hard to get to sleep the night after viewing the movie. Every random squeak, bump, or creak got my adrenaline running while my eyes shot directly to the door and I thought “Oh shit, I’m dead.” I even had to sleep with the TV on that night.
Of course, Paranormal Activity isn’t perfect and I don’t want anyone to think it is. The biggest problem is that the setting of the film takes place entirely inside of the young couple’s house. And with only two supporting actors, the environment starts to feel stale towards the end of the movie.
All in all, Paranormal Activity is a great film that does a lot of things right and puts big-budget films to shame. You’ll feel attached to the characters, and you will worry and fear for their well-being. The setting may get a bit stale, but the various believable frights will keep you interested until the very end of the movie.
I don’t know if I can recommend seeing it in theaters, however, due solely to the point that people are idiots. Sure it’s fun to react to the movie and scream, but when everyone is doing it constantly throughout the film you get a little annoyed. The movie will be much more effective when enjoyed in the privacy of your own home where no one can hear you scream like a bitch or smell the piss in your pants. If you think various shrieks and screams from an audience won’t bother you or detract from your enjoyment of the film, then I highly recommend Paranormal Activity.
- Outstanding acting
- Very believable scenarios
- The fear doesn’t stay in the theater. Good luck sleeping
- Katie is almost always showing some cleavage, which is awesome
- The setting begins to feel stale toward the end
- Few supporting actors
Score: 8.75/10 (Great)