'Paranormal Activtity' haunts moviegoers
As Halloween quickly approaches, many people are itching for a frightening experience. It could come from researching local haunts in the area, or it could come at the expense of purchased ticket. If that latter is the preferred method, then look no further than the latest mockumentary, Paranormal Activity.
Set up like the Blair Witch Project (hard to believe that was 10 years ago), Paranormal is shot through a home video perspective as a couple, Katie and Micah (played by Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), move into their newly purchased home. Unfortunately, an uninvited guest has decided to join them. As it turns out, Katie has felt that there has always been an evil presence following her since she was 8 years old. While it laid dormant for years, Katie believes it is now haunting the house.
To disprove his girlfriend's theory, Micah decides to leave a video tape on at night, to show that the unexplained bumps in the night are nothing to fear.
Shot over a period of several weeks, the audience watches the video evidence that, indeed, something lurks in the shadows. Although it starts out as little bumps, perhaps a door moving on its own, it gets progressively worse each night. When Katie and Micah consult a psychic, it is revealed that the spirit feels non-human, meaning that it is a demon, not a ghost.
Micah, still not convinced, keeps the video camera rolling at night, much to Katie's dismay. The tapes run both day and night. Of course, most of the activity happens at night, but the day shots show Katie and Micah's reactions as they watch the footage from the previous night, and discuss what next course of action to take. Little mutters under the breath and sly comments add that realistic feel to the fi lm, making the audience feel that this is just an average couple trying to fi gure out what is going on in their house.
While Blair Witch seemed to be more realistic to watch (reasons why they stayed in the woods were clear), Paranormal strikes an emotional chord with viewers. Rather than learning about a possible legend that happened in Maryland, the audience is taken into a couple's home, conveying that something like this could easily happen to anyone. After all, don't we all hear bumps in the nights or sounds we can't explain?
Oren Peli, the director, originally got the idea from his own experience. According to www.paranormalactivitymovie. com, Peli had bought a house and realized just how aware you are at night. Experiencing things falling off shelves and other noises over the course of several years, he began to think that if something supernatural was happening, it should be caught on tape.
It all got the techno-geek side of me thinking, ˜Maybe it would be cool to set up video cameras as a way to fi gure out what was going on? ¦ If those cameras caught something good, I thought that could make a pretty interesting movie.
Peli was right. Shot over the course of seven days, in his own house, on a budget of $15,000, Paranormal Activity was demanded by viewers to be shown nationwide, and has brought in $20.2 million since opening. Is it as scary as people claim? Yes! While it may not be scary, it has a creep factor of about 20 (on a scale from 1 -10). After watching the 11:36 p.m. showing, (by the by, not wise! Keep in mind that you have to sleep afterwards¦) I had to ask my friend, who had seen it with me, to come over and watch a comedy at 3 a.m. (to get all those images out of my head). She, of course after watching Paranormal Activity with me, had no problem agreeing, as she needed to collect herself, as well.
My one complaint about the fi lm is that it should have ended two minutes sooner. The fi nal end scene had some of the unnecessary Hollywood fl air. Imagination is a far more powerful tool when it is left to wander without limits. If it had ended two minutes earlier, people would probably still be dumbfounded with what happens. No cheesy stunt was needed.
I usually do not get freaked out by horror movies. In fact, I fi nd them comical. There have only been two movies that left a lasting impression on me: The Fog (1980) and Blair Witch. However, nothing has ever made me lose sleep. Every noise becomes amplifi ed after seeing this movie. Think you have explanations for those sounds think again. If you are a fan of scary movies, and the same old slasher fl icks just aren't what they used to be, check out Paranormal Activity. Even if it is predictable to some, it will still send a shiver down your spine.