Release Date: October 16, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
“Paranormal Activity” is a ridiculously low-budgeted movie ($15,000) shot in 7 days. After a brilliant marketing campaign asking horror movie fans to bring the number of request to have the movie released in their city to a million, the film has finally been blessed with a wider release. The ridiculousness stops with the budget though in that “Paranormal Activity” ends up being one of the scariest movies of the year or of any year. Taking place in San Diego, California in 2006, couple Micah and Katie have been experiencing some strange occurrences on a daily basis. Micah decides to invest in a hefty digital camcorder and by following everything his girlfriend does through a series of documentary-like interviews we find out that faucets have been turning on and off, that weird noises are often heard throughout the house. Katie is cautious because these “hauntings” have frequented her since she was eight years old, but Micah is an excited detective obsessed with solving the case and protecting the girl. The real suspense occurs every night, for 21 nights, as Micah leaves the camera on as they sleep and the audience witnesses some downright terrifyingly creepy events. Ten years agoâ “The Blair Witch Project”, was a bad movie that simply became a low-budget pop-culture phenomenon; “Paranormal Activity” may have low production quality, but it’s an expertly crafted horror-mystery. The movie’s frightfully fun to watch with a big audience, but the ride home at night may not be so pleasant.
A lot of why the buildup is so effective in this film has to do with the amazing use of sound. The audience never really gets to see much, but what we hear in the middle of the night is incredibly unsettling. Whether it be keys dropping on the floor, squeaky floor boards, creaks at the foot of the bed, TV static, loud crashing slams, soft undecipherable whispering, or the increasing breathing of whatever entity is stalking your bedside, the audience knows that something is there even if it’s nowhere to be seen. The traumatizing factor will be lost if you attempt to watch this movie in a noisy environment. See it in a theater, or in a dark silent room with quality speakers if you’re really serious about trying insomnia.
This movie is scary as F%#!. As far as jump out of your seat screams go, the moments are very few and far between until the very end. Oh my, but what an end; I’m a film critic and somehow I still ended up peeing in my pants. The end of the film is so effective because Director, Oren Peli, knows how to make the most of his less is more strategy. Through well-done pacing, off-putting sounds, and overall climactic build, Peli’s minimalist anesthetic results in incredibly nervous tension. After experiencing just one night of discomforting digital video timecode fastforwards, the anxiety-ridden anticipation for each succeeding night to come and go is unbearable. The eerie atmosphere created via squeaks, creaks, and lights going on and off is creepy enough, but what’s really terrifying is what happens when the movie is over. What really happened down the hall? What really happened downstairs? Imagining what happened in the dark is often scarier than letting multi-million dollar special effects do the work for you. Just as “Psycho” did to the shower or “Jaws” did to the water, “Paranormal Activity” does to your bedroom. What was once your safe home, your safe bed, is no longer a refuge. People walked out at the end of this movie shocked like I’ve never seen before. Just as the character of Katie starts lacking sleep, I’m sure teenagers, girlfriends, and wimpy guys like me across the country will start to be just as tired; it’s too difficult to sleep with the lights on.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Oren Peli
- Producer(s): Oren PeliKatie Featherston (Katie)
- Screenwriter(s): Micah Sloat (Micah)Mark Fredrichs (The Psychic)
- Cast: Oren Peli
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA