Stephen Taylor, Writer/Movie CriticEvery once in a great while a horror movie comes along with a huge ramp up, lots of hype and so much build up, that it usually ends up being a HUGE disappointment.
Remember The Blair Witch Project? Sure, it was inventive for the time and broke previously untouched cinematic ground (not to mention making millions at the box-office), but how many times do people watch the film over and over again? And it really wasn’t all that “scary”.
That was my main apprehension with the grassroots effort for the $15,000 spook thriller film Paranormal Activity. Luckily for them, it was picked up by Paramount Pictures last year with the intention of remaking it. They couldn’t figure out how to top what was already done by first time filmmaker Oren Peli, so it hung out in their film vault until now. The film was released in a handful of cities October 15th for midnight showings and sold out everywhere and as of now is open nationwide.
So, you may be asking yourself, does this movie live up to the hype? Two words…”Hell yes!”
Paranormal Activity is one of the creepiest films I have laid eyes on in the last ten years. It may be simple in its execution, but that’s why its scares are so effective. The plot line is simple as it follows a young couple, Katie and Micah (played by actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat). Katie’s has been tormented by some kind of evil (demon) since she was eight years old. Now that demon has followed her to their new home. It starts off with lights flickering on and off and strange noises that go “bump” in the night, but it quickly becomes so distressing that Micah goes out and buys a high-definition camera to record everything. He is hoping to get “concrete proof” of what is really going on.
So every night, the video footage shows the two of them sleeping as the camera records all of the strange occurrences. It begins with little things, and then it continuously gets worse. Soon, Katie and Micah discover it is not a ghost (meaning, used to be a person) that they have in their home, but a demon (not of human origin) and that is when things take a gigantic turn for disaster.
Both Featherston and Sloat give astonishingly deep and extremely doubtless performances – you are supposed to assume this is actually happening to the pair and they successfully do their thing without making it feel awkward or campy. Without the two of them, this could have ended a real super-low budget freak show that vanished quickly from rental store shelves for horrid acting and production ethics, but surprisingly Paranormal Activity has neither.
I can say that this film contains expert use of sound to play tricks with the mind of the audience. Also, the tension that continues to escalate all the time, through the entirety of the film until it builds to a climactic ending that will have you shaking in your boots. This kind of “edge of your seat” suspense is exactly what today’s modern day horror films are missing.
Great credit goes to Director Oren Peli for his ability to frighten the crap out of an audience and actually “show us the money!”I can assure that if you go home and are alone, you will stay under the covers the entire night after seeing this movie and you might not want to check out that weird noise you hear down the hall in the middle of the night.
Paranormal Activity is everything everyone is claiming it is and more. It is completely terrifying.