Call it following the norm, or doing what I expect people to want to read, but surprisingly – I’m not exactly a large fan of the movie franchise we’re covering today. Don’t get me wrong, the first one [which is the one that will be reviewed today] was really well done for what it was. But like so many other movies – it got a ton of sequels..one of which just came out! Yes, it’s true. I’m hardly a fan of these movies. but, I do enjoy the first film in the series: it’s a genuinely creepy film that managed to capture the fear of so many with such a tiny budget of $15,000. [and then making $77,873!] So as our second-last weirdo’ween review, let’s take a look at movie, known as Paranormal Activity.
Everyone, I mean Everyone has heard of these films. They’re insanely popular among the found footage crowd for being “revolutionary” in horror. While I’m not a huge fan of them, I remember the first night I saw the first one. It was with my family, and it was completely black in the living room. We watched it because my sister had claimed to have seen it at a friend’s house. It wasn’t until the ending that she screamed, stating it wasn’t the ending she remembered! [apparently there were three different endings to this movie] If that isn’t enough to scare you away, I don’t know what will.
Our story follows a young couple, Katie and Micah, who move into a new home, while Micah records their life on his video camera. [which starts to feel old really quick] After a strange event in the middle of the night, Katie admits to Micah that when she was a child, she had experienced a ghostly presence in her room. She claims to have sensed its evil and now worries that it possibly has followed her to their new place. Of course, Micah is skeptical, so to be sure, he sets up his camera in their bedroom to record any overnight activity. After a few days of almost nothing, they see their bedroom door move on the camera, proving how clear it is that there is a presence in their house. And it’s only about to get worse; much worse is yet to come..
The heart that was put into this film lies in the realism of the performances of really only two actors. The two who portray the couple are convincing and natural, so you feel as if you are watching an actual home video. Thankfully, they do not follow the usual “shaky-cam movie” model of acting in which the performances often try so hard to be “real” that they are usually over-done and therefore come off as a cheap acted thought of what the actor assumes would be somebody else’s reaction to that same scenario. But Paranormal is different, we believe as an audience, that these characters are more true to themselves, and the decisions they make and the things they say to one another feel like true expressions of how these people would feel if they had been placed in the same situation. This is awesome because then, instead of feeling like you are watching actors in a movie portraying someone else, you feel as if are watching two actual people in an actual haunted house. It feels real, because it’s not forced. You can recognize that everything they say and do as an actual reaction, one you could probably imagine yourself giving in response to what’s happening at that exact moment. This gives an extremely uneasy atmosphere which you feel like you can’t escape, because in this world; you feel like you are in it.
The other important thing to mention is the downright agonizing, yet wonderful use of suspense and the imagination of one’s mind. It’s clear to see that the Director didn’t assume that his audience is a thoughtless group of horror fans, who rely on cheap scares and loud noises deafening you to get the reaction of fear. Instead, he uses the concept of imagining what’s going to happen is far more terrifying than seeing what’s happening! The movie does a great job at forcing us to constantly think about what we just experienced, giving you just a few inches, and leaves your imagination to finish the mile. It even leaves you wondering if you just saw something, where if you blink, you will miss something. Subliminal shocks are hidden everywhere within the film, making not only are your senses attacked, but your psyche is also terrorized. One particular instance, viewing a completely empty room in dead silence for 30 seconds [or more] will feel like one of the most horrifying scenes in the entire film..and nothing happens. If you think about it – an empty, and silent room does not seem scary at all, but that’s what makes it so clever: something that simple, so familiar, can scare you down to your deepest core; and as the film continues, the haunting [naturally] gets worse. So is the movie worth it? I mean, this first film was really well done; especially for such a small budget, and only two actors. It’s creepy, and it’s definitely not something everyone will appreciate. Unfortunately, this was the only “good” one, as the sequels were all but ‘alright’ [though Paranormal Activity 3 did touch on the haunting of Katie when she was a kid! Kind of like a pre-sequel?] Paranormal Activity should be a message to Hollywood that originality is still what the people want in the movie industry. We, as horror fans, have grown [quickly] tired of having our favorite classic movies butchered and pointlessly remade more than a dozen times. Directors and producers shouldn’t deserve the revenue coming from these remakes, especially if all they’re doing is just upping the violence and sexual nature of old horror movies and calling it “a grittier version”. [I’m looking at you A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010!] It legitimately makes me happy, at least to some degree, knowing that tension based horror movies still have the chance to make it big. Especially on such a small budget, like this movie did. Seriously, well done for only $15,000! That’s impressive if I ever heard it.
So here we are, at the second last review of weirdo’ween. Be sure to join me for the finale tomorrow, when I review my all time favorite Halloween movie: Trick ‘r Treat. Have you been enjoying the reviews this past Month? Which was your favorite? Why? Let me know in a comment or two! After tomorrow’s review, posts probably won’t be as frequent [every two days give or take] but that doesn’t mean reviews are gone for good! It just will go back to also being horror news, and Friday Fun Facts, etc.
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