The downside to reviewing movies is sometimes you have to review a movie that you have no desire to relive; case in point the new horror film Paranormal Activity. That’s not to say that the movie is bad, in fact it’s incredible, it’s just that the movie was so terrifying to me that days later I’m still a little freaked out at night. Every noise has me jumping and shadow could be something haunting. Something only a truly great horror film can do.
Paranormal Activity introduces us to Katie (Katie Featherstone) and Micah (Micah Sloat), a young couple who have been experiencing some, well, paranormal activity in their home. When we meet them the activity has been going on for some time and Micah has bought a new camera in an attempt to capture the phenomenon on tape. It’s clear from the start that Micah doesn’t quite believe That Katie has been hearing the voices she claims to hear. But, during their first night of filming the couple catches a few strange noises, which piques Micah’s interest.
We quickly learn that while Micah thinks this is a fun game, Katie is tired of it. Katie has been haunted off and on by what is apparently the same entity since she was 8 years old, and she just wants to get rid of it. Early on the couple calls in a psychic who tells them that he believes that the haunting is a demon who has attached himself to Katie. The psychic also gives them the name of a demonologist friend who can help, and tells them not to provoke it, and under no circumstances should they try to contact it using something like a ouija board. Of course Micah thinks he can handle it himself and eventually does everything the psychic tells him not to.
The movie is ultra-low budget and really profits from this. The movie is shot from a single camera angle, which heightens the tension by making it feel that much more realistic. The night scenes feel like something out of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, a series I believe in completely. And maybe that’s why the movie affected me so much, because I believe in ghosts and demons, and the footage looks like the real thing.
While the activity starts out slow, the haunting gets progressively worse, with loud noises, shadows, and eventually physical activity. First time director Oren Peli succeeds by slowly ratcheting up the tension until you feel like you can’t take it anymore. In fact, at one point I thought to myself “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” It keeps getting worse and worse until it finally, thankfully, horribly ends. And like The Blair Witch Project before it the movie continues to haunt you long after you’ve left the theater.
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