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Late to the Party: Review of Paranormal Activity

Well, I’m a few years late to the party, but the important thing is, I’ve arrived. Just last night I watched Paranormal Activity for the first time. I guess it was seeing all the PA4 posts popping up that finally pushed me to see it so I decided to take the plunge.

Not really sure why I waited to long to see it. I guess I’ve always had a sort of averon to “found footage” that I’ve never really been able to explain. It just didn’t capture my interest. I could also have been the hype that it got; I didn’t want to have these expectations in my mind and then be totally let down so maybe I was waiting for that to die off a little. Who knows why, but let’s focus on the fact that I finally watched it and am now deciding to voice my thoughts on it just in case anyone cares.

First off, my expectations of not living up to the hype were shattered; I loved this movie. I can see how some people wouldn’t like this movie with its pacing and lack of thrills and scares and whatnot, but those are the exact reasons why I loved this movie. It got right down to the roots of horror: fear of the unknown and a feeling of helplessness.

Here we have two people in a house with weird things going on. The lead girl, Katie, has grown up being haunted so these weird things come as no surprise to her and do little more than to irritate her. It’s just little things at first, like strange noises and objects not being where we left them; things that have happened to all of us. You may be lying in bed and hear a creak and think it’s just the house settling or a rodent, but what if it’s something more? That’s the question the beginning of this movie poses to us. Could we posbly have a demon following us around?

Which brings me to my second point; the feeling of helplessness. When the occurrences start to escalate in frequency and intenty your initial reaction may be “Just get out of the house you morons!” but then you have to remember that it’s not the house that’s haunted, it’s the girl. They could run to the ends of the Earth, but it wouldn’t do them a bit of good. Micah, the lead man, even says in the movie that there’s no point in running. In most horror there is at least a faint glimmer of hope for the protagonists that they can escape the horror and get away with their lives. If they’re being chased by a masked killer or a monster or alien, they have the option to fight back or at least run away. If they’re in a haunted house, they can run away from the house and be safe. There is no safety here. This force has tied itself to Katie and isn’t letting go. Even when this thing literally drags Katie kicking and screaming from her bed and Micah saves her there’s nothing else they can do bedes go back to bed. It’s hopeless.

While the movie doesn’t have the usual jump scares and visual scares we’re used to it still packs a punch with the creepiness of it all. The movie wasn’t scary to watch (except for the fact that I watched it at work and was scared I would get caught), but it was creepy and it leaves you with a feeling of creepiness afterward. I think the found footage style helped this a lot too by not forcing our emotions with muc and camera tricks. When Katie gets pulled from the bed there’s no suspenseful muc blaring at us and the camera doesn’t movie to get all the horrified reactions. We’re left with screams and our imagination.

On to the technical aspects of the movie. I’ve heard complaints of the acting in this movie, but I thought the acting was good. I found the characters believable and relatable and, for the most part, reacted to the tuation as most people would. For being the only two people in the movie for 95% of the time I thought the actors carried it well. One problem I had with the movie was the fact that in the middle of a scene, even the middle of a conversation, the screen would jump like the camera had been shut off and turned back on. I found this strange for a found footage movie as I would think they would want each scene to be seamless. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but was just one of those little things that rubbed me the wrong way.

The movie gets a definite thumbs up from me and I can NOT wait to dive into the next movie which will be very soon.
Ed Reilly Thursday 8/30/2012 at 06:44 PM | 95943
I really enjoyed reading your review! I completely agree with every point you made for sure! I found 'Paranormal Activity' to be quite unsettling in the way it created such a tense feeling, as you stated, of not knowing what it is or what it is doing for a good portion of the film and of having no hope.

Paranormal Activity 2 and 3 are good films as well, though I feel they lost that feeling the original created with such mple occurences. I hope you post reviews of the 2 sequels though!
jarredah Thursday 8/30/2012 at 08:44 PM | 95950
I agree too, this review was spot on, and totally hit the nail on the head of why I love the film so much!

In my opinion - the second is just as good as the first, which is a rarity for sequels... but it's SOLID! The third one.... not so much.
joshk1986 Friday 8/31/2012 at 07:42 AM | 95961