2009 Movies

What I thought about Paranormal Activity

Don’t read this if you haven’t seen it. (I’m looking at you, Marshall)

I was really excited about seeing this, I read a couple of the preliminary festival reviews and have been avoiding any movie marketing since.  Those of you that know me are aware of the kind of horror nerd that I am. I don’t scare easy, but I actively try to scare myself as often as is possible.

The one genre that helps me out with this quest more often than any other is the Supernatural movie, specifically the Haunted house/possession movie.

I decided to watch Paranormal Activity alone, which may not have been my smartest move, but I really didn’t think it would scare me as much as it did.

It’s an extremely simple premise, shot on the super cheap but executed better than pretty much anything I’ve seen in the last decade or so. It employs the Blair Witch popularized handheld effectively and is smart enough to never ever show us the “monster”. The entire film takes place inside of the confines of the house (there’s maybe two exterior shots, but they’re both in the garden of said house) and this is incredibly important in helping add to the films sense of claustrophobia.

The twist in this tale is that it’s actually the female protagonist that’s being “haunted” and not the house, so there’s no Amityville or Poltergeist escape on offer here. She literally is just stuck to wait it out until it comes to its inevitable head. While I was watching I couldn’t help but think of the 1991 TV movie “The Haunted” which is one of the other most genuinely terrifying haunted house movies I’ve seen.

I’m glad the studio didn’t remake it with big names, it would have completely wrecked the believabilty of the situation. Although this is an entirely fictional movie (yeah, was disappointed that it wasn’t based on a real life anything) you rarely need to employ your suspension of disbelief. There are a couple of plot developments I would rather hadn’t been included, but I guess they needed to move the narrative along somehow. The last few mintutes of the movie were annoying to me, but more on a Blair Witch scale than say, Harpers Island. From what I’ve read this isn’t the original ending anyway. I’ll be interested to see what the DVD release offers up.

You should definitely watch this movie.

I’m probably going to have some trouble sleeping tonight.

I’ve included the trailer. Be warned it’s in no way representative of the mood of the film.

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