Paranormal Activity — Movie Review #JPMN
This supernatural horror film was initially
screened at the Screamfest Film Festival in 2007 before seeing a nationwide release over
two years later in October of 2009. Written, produced, and directed by Oren Peli, the simple
but intriguing concept was filmed on an extremely modest budget of only $15,000. The movie’s
$193 million dollar take at the box office make sit the single most profitable movie
ever made, based on return-on-investment. To put that another way, “Paranormal Activity”
made an astonishing thirteen grand for every dollar spent on production. The 86-minute
plot follows a young attractive couple in San Diego who attempt to document a demon
they believe may be terrorizing their house. Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat portray
these characters with realistic dialogue, which includes plenty of heated arguments
about their situation. While Katie wishes to ignore and retreat, Micah seems more interested
in provoking the force and capturing it on camera. Both of them have a vulnerable innocence
to them that makes it extremely easy to put yourself in their frightening position. Sharing
info he learned while researching demons, Micah remarks, “They stalk people for years,
like decades, and sometimes they’re really intelligent in the way they do things to freak
you out.” Although the slowly-paced film has huge sections where nothing happens, it’s
these quieter moments that are actually the scariest; as you’re just waiting with baited
breath for whatever unexplained anomaly will happen next. Tensions heighten slowly throughout
the R-rated flick, as we witness the nightly occurrences becoming larger and more aggressive.
But the creepiest moments are when Katie awakens in the middle of the night, seemingly in a
possessed trance, just to stare at Micah while he sleeps for hours on end. The entire film
is shot via an in-universe digital camera, which is frequently mounted on tripods around
their house: which besides allowing for the occasional two-shot also prevents this self-shot
cinematography from ever becoming too shaky and disorienting. All of the visual trickery
was accomplished with practical, in-camera effects, which keep the picture believable.
In an effort to maintain the found-footage ruse the movie doesn’t have any credits, before
or after the film; an extremely rare occurrence I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Forgoing
a traditional score in favor of a low rumbling during the more dramatic scenes, this movie
is often more unsettling than outright scary. A surprisingly effective low-budget horror
film that kicked off a slew of copycats, and a six-picture franchise, this is one movie
all horror-fans should see at least once… but they might want to wait until the daytime.
“Paranormal Activity” delivers disturbing domestic events despite its low-budget feel.
And here’s what you had to say in the YouTube comments. One of the most polarizing films we’ve reviewed
yet – some thought it was a horrible excuse for cinema, while others praised its ingenuity,
your scores averaged to an ALRIGHT. Even though the plot doesn’t really go anywhere, the concept
and execution definitely creeped me out, I thought it was COOL.