Friday, October 16, 2009

Review: Paranormal Activity

I have to admit, I bought the hype. I've heard reviews across the country touting Paranormal Activity as the scariest movie since The Exorcist. The little movie that could, made for 10-15 K in 2007 in a raw documentary style invented by The Blair Witch Project. This movie made 7 million last weekend showing on a very limited number of screens. I'm a fan of scary movies and usually end up watching them alone since Lori wants nothing to do with them. I took a long lunch break today and went to see a matinée.

I had heard that people who see this film are haunted by it for days and have trouble sleeping. All the build-up had me eagerly anticipating this movie as a tense horror classic. Unlike District 9 which actually exceeded my expectations (I know, some of you are saying "why don't you just rename this blog as 'Blog! There's District 9...'?"), Paranormal Activity was a complete let down. The movie isn't all that bad but it does nothing revolutionary and fails to haunt the viewer to the core as advertised. The premise of the film revolves around a couple in San Diego who have been dating for three years. The woman (Katie, played by someone named Katie) has been experiencing a little poltergeist action off and on since she was a little girl. Her boyfriend Micah (played by someone named Micah) is a technophile who decides to try to capture the hauntings on film to study them further.

The entire movie takes place in their house and most of the action occurs at night. The filmmakers do a good job of presenting time lapsed events through the night and some of them are scary for sure. The use of sound is well done to heighten the overall effect. There is a good amount of tension throughout, but after a while I was thinking to myself "is this all there is?" Maybe I'm desensitized and can handle creepy noises and implied paranormal experiences more than the average person, but I just never got to the point where I was terrified by what I was witnessing. The final 10 minutes of the movie take the story a bit too far and I no longer felt like I was watching "real footage" of an actual event. I don't want to give the plot away, but the last few scenes just didn't seem very authentic.

The Blair Witch Project, Event Horizon, The Hills Have Eyes, The Ring, The Descent, hell even The Ruins were all scarier movies than Paranormal Activity (and that's just off the top of my head). If you are a fan of the horror genre, I would recommend renting this when it comes out on video. It's worth a viewing at low expectations but don't spend $10 seeing in on the big screen. I give this one a 2.5 out of 5 JR's. In hindsight, I should have gone into the theater showing Zombieland instead.

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