Paranormal Activity DVD|
Independent horror movie Paranormal Activity is not for the faint hearted. Directed by Oren Peli, this film is genuinely terrifying and follows the story of a young couple, Micah and Katie, who become increasingly troubled at night by an evil presence residing in their new suburban home.
Kate has always believed that she has been followed by malicious ghosts, although Micah is sceptical. However, after witnessing some strange happenings at night, Micah starts to think that she may be right and rigs their new home with recording equipment. Once the cameras are rolling, the couple try to make contact using an Ouija board, but this upsets the spirit and lands them in grave danger.
This skilfully crafted terror-fest, which only cost £9000 to make, will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and have you jumping out of your seat the slightest bump or creak.
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Average Rating for Paranormal Activity  - 4 out of 5
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Paranormal Activity L Still
When a film like Paranormal Activity comes along, the reputation that precedes it can be damaging. Often the result will be a letdown. It's rare for a film to live up to the hype that's stirred up on its release - fortunately this is one of those films. A critic quoted in the film's trailer calls it "one of the scariest movies of all time". They weren't far off the mark.
The story of Paranormal Activity is simple. A young American couple, Micah and Katie, have lately been experiencing some kind of presence in their home. A haunting. It's difficult for them to describe and to begin with it's all very vague - Katie likens it to as though she's being watched when she sleeps. The movie opens with Micah having bought a high-definition video camera to try to catch this thing on film. Good for us - maybe not so good for them.
The film presents itself as found footage - many comparisons will be drawn here with The Blair Witch Project. The difference here is that the action is restricted to the confines of a small family home. Where in Blair Witch, the vast unknown and sense of being lost in the middle of nowhere was what got to us, here it's the claustrophobia of the house and its presence that can't be seen. It's tremendously unnerving.
The power of the film lies in the mind of the viewer. Very little is presented to us for the majority of the duration of the film, and still it manages to be powerful and at times, really quite frightening. The home being filmed is, on the surface, completely ordinary. But when night falls and the lights go out, this innocent family home suddenly feels far more sinister.
For a film presented as documentary footage, its plot develops at a good pace. As the presence makes itself known more clearly, the couple's desperation quickly grows. Looking to flush it out of their home, they resort to desperate measures. Consulting a Ouija board provides a tensely gripping scene, and later Katie even resorts to contacting a demonologist for help.
It takes a bold filmmaker to have many of their film's scenes consist of, largely, nothing. Fortunately, here, it works. Long stretches of the film will have you watching Katie and Micah sleep. Nothing else. At night, Micah positions the video camera in the master bedroom. The bed is on one side of the frame - the open door on the other. There's nothing special about the setting. The timer on the video camera ticks along at high-speed, and then occasionally slows to real-time. And it's a strange thing. As the timer slows, you know that something is going to happen. It brings you to the edge of your seat. You'll hold your breath, and watch. Scanning the screen for the slightest of movement. More often than not, there's nothing. In one instance, a door will twitch. Maybe it was a draft . maybe it was something else. And then it's morning again, and an immense sense of relief will wash over you. I wonder how many other films can claim to captivate an audience so intently with so little happening on screen. It's bizarre, and it's very clever.
As the film edges forward, the scares pile on. The occasional loud bang to deliver a jolt to the viewer never feels out of place or exploitative - it's the work of some thing trying to frighten the characters, not us. Forgiving a couple of dodgy judgements, including the decision to go into the attic to investigate in the early hours of the morning (one of the most tense scenes in the film, typically), the couple's reactions are largely believable. The ante is upped as the film moves forward, culminating in an ending that will divide a lot of audiences, but providing a frightening climax to the film's events.
After a long line of gory slasher movies being pumped out to make a quick buck lately, it's refreshing to see this movie trump the latest 'Saw' entry at the box office. There is no blood, no gore and no violence here. The horror all takes place in the mind and it's considerably more effective than anything that could be shown on screen.
The pacing is tight, the acting authentic and the growing sense of unease and dread that develops throughout is quite harrowing. The film brews such a thick atmosphere in its quietest scenes that in a packed cinema you could hear a pin drop. With a little suspension of disbelief, Paranormal Activity becomes a disquieting, chilling and surprisingly affecting film. Don't watch it alone. It'll stay with you long after the credits roll.
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