Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Horror Paranormal Activity (2009)

Paranormal Activity (2009)

This seemingly “homemade” haunting of a thriller takes place in San Diego in director Oren Peli’s actual home.  He also did the casting for the film, choosing two main characters, Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, to play none other than “Katie” and “Micah”.  Peli’s home serves as the main stage and hub for “Paranormal Activity”. Except for a brief outside shot, it is the only setting we are shown. 

Katie and Micah have been dating for three years and have recently moved into this suburban home.  If I do say so myself, it’s a rather nice home, lovely decorated and well kept.  Peli actually repainted some of the walls, added furniture, and added the staircase to his home for this movie.  Back to the film; Katie feels she is being haunted by some supernatural force.  This has been going on since she was a child and had a tragic ordeal which included the burning down of her home that has stayed with her for many years.  Micah decides to try to capture any activity on camera.  He uses a handheld camera and takes it everywhere with them throughout their home.  He sets it up at night while they are asleep; this is when the majority of the spooky events take place.  Their bedroom door moving by itself, footsteps heard while they are asleep, their blanket moving by itself, a Ouija board suddenly coming ablaze while the two are out one night to name a few; and perhaps one of the most shocking, Katie getting up during the night and staring at her boyfriend while he sleeps for hours with no recollection of ever doing it the next day.  They bring in a psychic to try to assist them with their in-home demon issues, but to no avail.  You do tend to get the idea that this demon or entity does not care very much for Micah.  His consistent mocking and berating of it is more than likely the reason.  Especially when they find one of their pictures with Micah’s face scratched off.  Like many horror films, this one has a number of scenes that helps to build the suspense and keep you thinking “what’s going to happen next?”   

Where most other films in this classic genre seem to fall short, “Paranormal Activity” does a pretty decent job; this being in the direction and in the acting.  Choosing to use his own home for filming was a random, yet surprisingly smart decision by Peli.  It adds to the feeling of realness of the story:  An ordinary home with ordinary people living in it.  True, playing yourself can’t be too hard, but in reality, yeah, it is, when you’re on camera.  Add to the fact that you’re pretending there’s a demon in your home can be even harder.  Katie and Micah do a good job of this.  Micah really didn’t have to excel as much, basically trying to be the security in the home, protecting his girlfriend but also, obviously intrigued and excited about potentially making contact with a supernatural being.  Katie really excelled and impressed me.  Especially towards the end when everything begins to get out of hand in their struggle for peace against this demon, her acting really stands out.  Facial expressions of absolute fear and total blood-curdling screams could put her in the running for the next up and coming horror movie scream queens out there.  Really enjoyed her performance. 

Good horror movies have good acting and great special effects.  This film had really good special effects.  Although there were few and some pretty basic, they were good, especially considering the way in which this film was shot.  Basic ones, like the bedroom door moving by itself and a blanket being pulled up with no one touching it, were expected.  But one that stood out to me the most, which was the special effect that was great in my book, was Katie being pulled by her leg out of her bed, out of their room, and down the hall of their home by “no one”, all the while screaming for Micah to come to her aid.  The film editing crew deserves many merits and accolades for pulling these effects off without a hitch. 

From hearing what others who had seen it before me said, I had my doubts going in to this one.  Especially, since it is filmed entirely in the “found footage” style of film making ala “The Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield”.  But I must say this style adds something to a film, giving the audience something extra to think about. Filming on a hand held camera makes a story look like it could have actually happened.  It keeps images and sounds burned into your brain well after you walk out of the theater or press eject on your DVD player.  I don’t think “Paranormal Activity” is certified classic horror movie platinum but it might be able to receive at least a gold standard.  Of course it leaves you hanging, leaving many of your questions unanswered, but that is sometimes a good quality in a good horror flick.  Other times, yes, it can be very frustrating.  I think this film has a combination of both.  Some of those questions might be answered with a sequel slated for later this year.  Overall I give “Paranormal Activity” 2.5 “fiery Ouija boards out of 5”. “I get that, but honestly what was I supposed to say? On our first date, ‘Hey, I think there’s a demon that I think has been following me.'”

1 thought on “Paranormal Activity (2009)”

  1. This is one of the best horror movies ive seen this year. I loved the movie, it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Also keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. I would recommend everyone watching it.

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