Posted on 11/17/09 01:05 PM
Have you ever wondered what goes bump in the night? Has a door in your house closed or things been moved when you were the only one home? Do you believe in paranormal activity?
These are the types of questions the indie-hit "Paranormal Activity" raises in the same vein that "The Blair Witch Project" did back in 1999. The shaky camera and the is-this-real or is-this-staged acting works, but again, Blair Witch did this over a decade ago. I waited a while to go see it -- hearing both that it was "the scariest movie I'd seen in a while" and "so dumb I can't believe I paid $12 to see it".
The movie does start out ridiculously slow, with a young couple - Katie, a student and Micah, a day trader in suburban San Diego, California. After experiencing some strange noises in the middle of the night, Katie hearing her name 'whispered' to her, items moved, etc -- Micah decides to purchase a camera and document their room overnight. As I am a firm believer in NOT revealing spoilers - I will refrain from unveiling more of the movie's plot.
I don't agree with those that say it was dumb or silly, but I also will not call it necessarily "scary". It was more of a "thriller" that entertains the idea that there may be more out there than meets the eye. Many point at the 'grassroots' marketing at small horror film fests, it's 'limited' release and a petition on the web (Paranormal Activity distributor Paramount claims it only put the film into wide release after it received a million votes for it on the Eventful Web site) that eventually led to it's wide release; but, some skeptics say they were always going to release it and was banking on people's lack of access to it being the real reason for it's big draw and word-of-mouth. Afterall - a vote-to-see-it movie is a great marketing technique and generates more word of mouth, especially in a day of social networking websites and email. However you look at it - it's a cash cow, raking in it's profits, and fair share of praise and criticism.
Without revealing too much, I can only leave you with my general impressions. I found the main characters to be believable, though Katie was annoying and many times seemed less scared and mostly just annoying, making it hard for me to watch her (and yes, before you check - I am a female). The movie didn't stay with me afterwards (as it did for some of my friends that were checking closets and not thrilled to be sleeping in houses by themselves after seeing it). For what it was, I enjoyed it - as a low-budget horror movie with some flaws, including a slow build to a flash finish. (If you've seen it - you'll know what I mean.)