I hope the hype doesn’t get out of control on this movie, because it always ends up in a backlash. I don’t want to see that happen because Paranormal Activity is a fantastic low budget indie horror film. It really is. So hype monster, please stay away from this movie. Let it stand on its own two demonic feet, OK?
Young couple Katie and Micah (played competently by (Katie Featherton and Micah Sloat) move into a new apartment and find that it is haunted but quickly discover the problem is more with Katie than the house.
This is a great movie. The cinema verite style works, doesn’t feel contrived or forced, and the tension builds and the pacing is perfect. It’s simply a well crafted film, from start to finish.
The story is logical and makes sense. (Note: please send screenplay to Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers writers with a diagram on logic and story progression) There are no huh? moments. All progression is also rooted in what is known (or unknown) about paranormal activity and this is what makes the film all the more chilling. It feels real. It doesn’t feel like a screenwriter’s milkshake. I’m not really even sure what I meant by that, except maybe that I’m ambivalent about milkshakes.
From a technical filmmaking standpoint, the film is absolutely brilliant. Don’t have a lot of money? Incorporate the low budget production values into your story. What studios and often filmmakers forget, is that writing a script costs nothing. You can write the script with your limitations in mind. You need to be more creative, and filmmaker Oren Peli did just that. One location? Check. Limited cast? Check. Limited special effects? Check. Even when the characters “went out” the camera stayed home. Make your shooting style and production value work for your story.
Is it Blair Witch? Sort of. Hey at least it’s not Open Water. What a piece of shit that movie was. Not all movies made for next to nothing are brilliant. Most of them suck. But Paranormal Activity IS the next itineration of Blair Witch. In fact, I think we’re soon going to have a new term for horror low budget indie cinema verite style filmmaking. Witchite. Paranormal Verite. Monstercore. See how fun that is?
The interesting thing about Blair Witch was while so many people saw it, a lot of people hated it. They heard the hype, went, didn’t really understand the premise and thought it was boring and didn’t show anything. Personally, I liked it and found it chilling. But the sequel tanked and ruined the studio. Anyone remember Artisan? Never put all your horror eggs in one basket, stupid studio.
Now the ending to Paranormal Activity is a little different due to the studio’s suggestion, but it works, just in a different way than the original ending. (There may even be as many as three or four different endings of the film according to interviews and blogs and I’ll bet we’ll see at least a few of them on a DVD release) They are all similar, by the way so it’s not like one is hugely different than any other. Spielberg didn’t add a spaceship or anything. It’s tough to describe it without giving anything away, so I’ll stop here because the less you know about the movie going in, the more you’ll enjoy it.
So go and enjoy this movie. Please. By going to see it you’ll not only get a fun time at the movies, but you’ll also be voting for independent film, films made with passion and skill and not market driven mass produced schlock put together with the loving affection of a marketing department. Films by filmmakers! Viva La Monstercore Revolucion!