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Overall Rating

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
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"Why can't "Ghost Hunters" be more like this?"
4 stars

The obvious (and valid) comparisons between this film and "The Blair Witch Project" of a decade ago have already been duly noted, and its arrival in a year where the television landscape is littered with paranormal investigation "reality" shows could certainly be considered timely. All that aside, "Paranormal Activity" is an effective and creepy thriller whose miniscule production values are more than compensated for by masterful pacing that showcases an escalating series of geniunely unsettling scenes.

The premise of "Paranormal Activity" could not be any simpler. A young couple who recently moved into a new home find themselves troubled by odd occurrences. In order to try and document these incidents, boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) buys an expensive video camera setup and begins carrying it around the house constantly during the day and mounting it in a fixed position in their bedroom at night. While they only catch the faintest hints of activity at first (a door moving slightly here, a series of sounds which may or may not be footsteps there), the ocurrences soon begin to escalate with an increasingly sinister tone. While girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston) humors Micah at first (and playfully rebuffs his frequent attempts to get her to engage in a little "extra-curricular" activity on film), she quickly grows weary of his obsession with recording everything, putting further strain on their relationship.

Once you get past the films obviously non-existent budget and spotty audio (at times the dialogue is hard to hear - especially in a theater full of retarded, giggling teenagers) and roll with the "mockumentary" style, it is surprisingly easy to get caught up in Micah and Katie's predicament. While the acting isn't superb, it's certainly above-par for the genre, especially in a film made on a shoestring as thin as this one (it was reportedly shot in a week on an $11,000 budget). Okay, maybe their backstory isn't terribly believable. Katie is a grad student and Micah is an internet day trader, yet they live alone in a sprawlling 5 bedroom house with a pool in San Diego? This dude must be the Warren Buffet of the E-Trade community. But once you get past their ridiculously easy lifestyle (which conveniently allows them to spend hours each day reviewing tapes from the night before), it's easy to sympathize with their plight as the threat to their safetly and sanity becomes increasingly apparent.

And speaking of the house (where the entire film takes place) - what a great place to use in a movie like this. With its long creepy upstairs hallway outside the master bedroom (where the most jarring moments happen) and spacious dowstairs common rooms full of dark corners, it is tied together by a tri-level staircase where something frequently makes its way between floors (and worlds) in the wee hours. I was never bored with the settings of "Paranormal Activity", which manages to squeeze the most out of every room, stairway, and corridor. First time director/writer Oren Peli burns a slow and steady fuse throughout, constantly ratcheting up the tension with daytime arguments followed by things that go bump (and crash, and screech) in the night, as witnessed by a series of images from the static master bedroom cam seen in the trailers. Peli shows us just enough to freak us out, with a handful of minor but impressive visual effects, but never takes things too over the top.

While the flm's current marketing campaign is trying to ratchet up the hype in equal measure in an attempt to spark the next Blair Witch phenomenon, viewers should not expect "The scariest movie ever". However, it's certainly far more effective than 90 percent of the dreck currently flooding the horror-suspense market (and I say this after having just watched the horrendously boring and unimaginative slasher film "Prom Night"). All other comparisons aside, is certainly equal in quality to its horror-mockumentary forerunner.

Those with patience and reasonably adjusted expectations will get the most satisfaction out of "Paranormal Activity". While not perfect, it delivers the kind of scares and shocks that most horror flms just can't manage to deliver.

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originally posted: 10/18/09 19:22:03
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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
10/28/09 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
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  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Oren Peli

Written by
  Oren Peli

  Micah Sloat
  Katie Featherston

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