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Overall Rating
3.39

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 2.86%
Total Crap: 18.57%

5 reviews, 40 user ratings


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Paranormal Activity
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by brianorndorf

"What's more scary, the demons or the acting?"
3 stars

While sitting on the shelf for quite some time now, Paramount Pictures recently figured out a way to properly sell the $11,000 chiller, “Paranormal Activity.” Playing up the film’s haunted house aspect and psychological grip on select members of test audiences, the studio is raring to fashion a fresh “Blair Witch Project” moviegoing event, to build something extraordinary out of an exceedingly modest motion picture. I’m not suggesting “Activity” isn’t effective, but those purchasing a ticket would be well advised to bring expectations down to a dull roar, allowing the movie a fighting chance to frighten.

Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) are an ordinary couple facing an extraordinary situation. Fearing their house is haunted, the pair purchases a video camera, looking to tape their sleeping hours to capture whatever ghostly entity is in the area. As the days tick by and experts weigh in on their situation, Micah and Katie grow frustrated with the lack of results, only finding fragments of activity on the playback. However, the mysterious noises and swaying doors soon add up, terrifying the couple and putting severe stress on their relationship.

Presented as an assembly of found footage from the local police, “Activity” is the story of a haunting as captured by the haunted. The video is crude hand-held material, depicting the domestic intimacy of the couple between the spurts of terror. They flirt and whine, playing for the camera in a manner that expresses pre-marital comfort, but Micah and Katie are growing increasingly distressed, and the camera monitors their every twitch of fear.

“Activity” is a sensorial experience, not a dramatic one. The performances from the two leads reveal a distinct amateur tone that shatters the illusion of reality, especially Featherston, who’s trying hard to articulate her sensations of alarm, making the performance woefully artificial. Since the entire experience of “Activity” hinges on spending time with the couple, their blasé reading of terror disappoints, and worse, aggravates, making for a glacial 90+ minute sit. For a film already at the lower end of professional polish, the acting makes the whole shebang feel like a community theater rehearsal. I was half-expecting Corky St. Clair to show up as a spirit.

Messing around with Ouija boards, demonology experts, attic investigation, and featuring a plethora of spooky sound effects, “Activity” hits a few highlights of suspense. The stark, homemade quality of the film helps to encourage a creepy atmosphere of the unknown during the sleeping footage, and there are plenty of jolts to keep viewers on edge, but only for a short amount of time. Director Oren Peli doesn’t tighten the noose quickly enough, leaving much of the film a slow burn to nowhere. Events do intensify in the final act, but it’s a long haul to get to the good stuff. Truthfully, “Activity” would’ve made a cracking short film, with all the obvious pauses removed for a more streamlined and effective viewing experience.

Refreshingly, something is actually after Micah and (specifically) Katie, keeping the feature from becoming a shameless tease. It’s a neat concept, but “Paranormal Activity” only contains a few effective sequences, making all the heavy breathing, bickering, and weeping something of a chore to endure.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17250&reviewer=404
originally posted: 09/25/09 23:01:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell scary as hell not 4 gorehounds &ADD folks wont like it 4 stars
8/19/14 el culo how did i get to this ugly looking website? 1 stars
8/27/12 David Pollastrini One of the better "found footage" films 4 stars
7/18/11 Flipsider Good concept... terrible script with unlikable characters. LAME ending. Not recommended. 1 stars
2/09/11 ES I watched both endings, the more high tech of the two is def the one I'd have gone with. 4 stars
11/24/10 mr.mike It accomplishes its mission. Plenty of scares. 4 stars
11/15/10 ALICE been waiting a long time for a movie that can still scare the * out of me ! 5 stars
10/10/10 Ace-of-Stars A bit overhyped. Not bad, but nothing astounding either. Good for one sit-thru. 3 stars
6/03/10 User Name It's no masterpiece, but it does what it sets out to do: scare the bejesus out of you. 3 stars
6/03/10 Shane Callanan Incredibly scary!!! 5 stars
3/28/10 Mike Much Scarier stuff on A&E's "Ghost Hunters" - this belongs on YouTube 1 stars
3/03/10 Stanley Thai It effectively strips the securities of sleeping in your bedroom. 4 stars
3/03/10 engelheart big waste of time..sucked 1 stars
2/02/10 Roxanne Childers I'm 51 years old and had to sleep with the nite-lite on. 4 stars
1/14/10 Charles Tatum Just enough chills- and Featherston is a hottie 4 stars
12/04/09 Roy Oak Liked a lot but more than half the audience that saw with me didn't understanded and laughe 4 stars
11/28/09 Nick Awesome Movie. Got me scared chicken. Took 10 years for a film to do that again. 5 stars
11/26/09 Artemis B Gone Blair Witch was great. This film was total and complete garbage. 1 stars
11/11/09 Kim waited and waited to be scared out of my wits just didn't happen felt I wasted my money 1 stars
11/06/09 jamsl i wasted my money sad face 1 stars
11/04/09 dude scariest movie ever 5 stars
11/03/09 shell waste of time and money 1 stars
11/01/09 Jake Pack Worst Movie Ever Made In History! no joke! 1 stars
10/29/09 PAUL SHORTT A HOMEMADE HORROR FILM BLOWN ALL OUT OF PROPORTION 2 stars
10/28/09 Bob Masterpiece! Not for hyperactive idiots though. 5 stars
10/28/09 David A. A lot of it is corny and campy, but there are a couple of places where it makes you jump. 3 stars
10/28/09 Devin This movie was DISAPPOINTING. It was HORRIBLE. 1 stars
10/26/09 MAD You walked out before the best parts. What an idiot. 5 stars
10/26/09 Scottie AWFUL MOVIE. We walked out after 1 hour 1 stars
10/25/09 matt not bad, but not perfect 4 stars
10/23/09 Man Out 6 Bucks While you paid for this crap, crew partied w/your $ on Pacific Beach 1 stars
10/22/09 damalc good suspenseful buildup with no payoff. main characters were in bed for 1/3 of movie. 3 stars
10/20/09 Bnorm The person i went with cried at the end of this movie. its ridiculous 5 stars
10/20/09 NA It so freaked me out I can't stop thinking about it 5 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A Blair witch type movie with a re-filmed Hollywood Hostess twinke ending 2 stars
10/17/09 action movie fan demon stalks woman and loer in this frightful film-very memorable 4 stars
10/16/09 B solid horror flick 4 stars
10/12/09 steve terrible 1 stars
10/12/09 Obi Wan Scariest movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/09/09 Debbie Girard, The scariest movie I have ever seen. It is smart, not gore. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Sep-2009
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


Directed by
  Oren Peli

Written by
  Oren Peli

Cast
  Micah Sloat
  Katie Featherston



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