Paranormal Activity (2008)
Directed by Oren Peli

Starring Katie Featherston Micah Sloat

This is a review for a movie you are likely never to see – although if you do see it, it probably won't be until 2009. "Paranormal Activity" played the Slamdance Film Festival in 2008 and Dreamworks was so impressed, they bought the movie, remake rights, then decided never to screen it while they decided whether or not to commission a remake or release the original version.

Meanwhile, the movie became something of an instant classic of the mockumentary genre, simply because of its festival screenings.

They should not make a remake. They should release the original version. It's a near perfect mockumentary, clearly inspired by "The Blair Witch Project", and it's so effective as a no budget home movie, it seems odd that anyone would want to remake it with a larger budget and destroy it's home-movie believability.

The film opens, as all mockumentaries do, with an introduction to the characters and an explanation that an amateur film-maker is photographing everything that's about to transpire for posterity's sake. In this case, the filmmaker is a day trader named Micah (Micah Sloat) who is filming his recently moved-in girlfriend (Katie Featherston, last seen in the 2006 direct-to-video sci-fi film "Mutation") who has been haunted by an unknown entity most of her life. Micah follows her around the house with a camera and posts a camera aimed at their bed every night.

The storyline continues from there, with a psychic visiting the couple, recommending that they see a demonologist because they are clearly being haunted by a demon – and demons aren't his specialty. Unfortunately, they wait to call the local demonologist. Instead, Micah attempts to contact the entity using a ouija board. Things spiral out of control from there – all of it captured on camera.

Helmer Peli manages to make the most out of what was clearly a non-existent budget – going for ultra-realism. The simplest of effects become terrifying under his direction, from a swinging chandelier to a crooked attic door. The film has plenty of wit, as well, with Micah delivering some excellent one liners ("She's pissed") and the psychic returning to their home only to tell them that he cannot help them and, in fact, has to leave immediately.

But some clear nods to "The Exorcist" later in the story remind us that this film is definitely a fantasy and it isn't as easy to get as caught up in its terrifying world as it was for "The Blair Witch Project." The film tries to explain why the characters can't leave the home – the psychic explains it doesn't matter. Well, why not run to a church? Or call the "700 Club"?

Pretty minor complaints. "Paranormal Activity" is not a perfect movie but a brilliant one given its incredibly tiny budget. It would have been one of the very best of 2008 had it actually been released. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, plans are underway for a remake, with this powerful original film maybe never seeing the light of day. That would be a terrible idea. The power of this film is its zero budget. An even modestly budgeted version might fall flat on its face.


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-- Review by Lucius Gore

USER COMMENTS

Posted by b79 on May 6, 2008
Well guess what, there's videos like Paranormal Activity filmed in document style footage showcased on a new video website - http://www.footagefound.com. Check it out!


Posted by lilbits7458 on October 9, 2009
please play the movie in new jersey....all of new jersey....we are all big paranormal fans


Posted by fulci on October 26, 2009
what a horrible boring movie.not scary at all.avoid this one


Posted by faith on October 28, 2009
best fucking movie ive ever seen


Posted by iTokeSmoke on November 10, 2009
This movie is definately not a horror,but it can be called a thriller/mystery.I saw it at a drive in theater with my dad and we were both jumping at the movie!But isnt that what being scared is all about?Anyways..watch it.love it.


Posted by PhantomClone·InX on November 30, 2009
I'm sorry but this movie was not good. The acting was bad, the characters unlikable (especially Micah), and the suspense/scares were non-existent. This is the most overhyped horror film ever. At least similar films like "Blair Witch" and "[REC]" delivered on suspense and scares. "Paranormal Activity" was about as scary as a big-screen version of "Ghost Hunters".


Posted by T on December 29, 2009
i hated this movie. i felt no compassion for the characters at all . the acting was forced and the movie was low on scares. it dragged between night sequences and by the time the creature had showed up in the daytime, i stopped caring


Posted by Sushmita on September 17, 2010
Disgusting movie....ive ever seen...


Posted by Flipsider on November 27, 2010
Pretty bad movie, nowhere near as good as Blair Witch. The main problem is the writing, which feels like a very forced attempt at "realistic dialogue." The characters come across as very unlikable. This is also a VERY predictable movie, there is no creativity with the hauntings at all, and the final shot is obvious and trite. If you must watch this movie, please keep your expectations low.


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