Seeing helpless victims face a brutal serial killer is terrifying, but after watching Paranormal Activity, I’d much rather be hanging out with Jigsaw than the demonic force haunting Micah and Katie. Experiencing this movie with an unruly crowd definitely diminished the horrifying effects, yet I still walked out terribly frightened and dreading turning out the lights and going to bed. The film’s scare factor precedes it but Paranormal Activity isn’t just a cheap thrill, it’s an honorable production that easily trumps other films, even those not of its genre.
Katie and Micah (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) are happy. They live in a beautiful home and have a fantastic relationship. There’s just one problem. They’re kept awake at night by a demonic force that shares their lovely home. Determined to prove something is causing these bumps in the night, Micah invests in a video camera and records everything from them going about their daily business to their sleepless nights. Apparently their demonic roommate is a little camera shy, because the more Micah records, the more aggressive the mysterious events get.
Paranormal Activity is brilliant. Not only is it very well made, but it’s downright terrifying. Much of the footage depicting their daily activities is shot Blair Witch style but when the camera comes into the bedroom it’s static on a tripod. Being a tech junkie I can sympathize with Micah’s obsession with his new toy. When the camera isn’t perched on its tripod, it’s in his hand catching every detail of their experience. His enthusiasm stems from his playful attitude--these paranormal events are more of a game to him than to his lovable yet somewhat harsh girlfriend. Micah’s wisecracks are perfectly timed and their lighthearted bickering is endlessly amusing.
Another element of the film that’s pitch-perfect is every single paranormal activity. The succession of events is believable and absolutely terrifying. Every night they crawl into bed you’ll cringe nervously awaiting the time code time-lapse to stop and something out of the ordinary to happen. I wouldn’t dare spoil one moment of the film, but I can guarantee every freaky incident will make you gasp if not scream.
When I walked out of Paranormal Activity my mind was moving a thousand miles a minute. I was obsessing over what happened in the film and couldn’t stop thinking about how such a fantastic movie was made for just $11,000. In a way, it’s a good thing the movie creeped me out so severely, because while I sat up in bed making sure no lights were inexplicably being turned on and off, I decided that Paranormal Activity is one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
While I’m glad to see the movie become a monumental success, the enormous amount of hype inevitably results in some backlash. It saddens me to see moviegoers rebel and not allow Paranormal Activity to work its magic. It’s not even a matter of accepting the movie for what it is; it’s just about not putting up a roadblock. Yes, the underlying concept of the film may be ridiculous but it is portrayed in a very realistic manner. The only way someone can sit through this movie and not be frightened is if he or she completely dismisses it from the start or just covers their eyes the entire time.
Everything from the actors to the cinematography is so natural that when the unnatural aspects pop up, they’re intrinsically terrifying. I can’t wait to see more from Featherston and Sloat and even more so from writer/director Oren Peli. Paranormal Activity will be far from over after you leave the theater. It’ll take quite some time to recover before you can sleep soundly without wondering if you’re really alone in the room.