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Overall Rating
3.39

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look50%
Just Average: 14.29%
Pretty Crappy: 2.86%
Sucks: 18.57%

5 reviews, 40 user ratings


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Paranormal Activity
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by Mel Valentin

"A haunting we will go, a haunting we will go..."
4 stars

Two years ago, Oren Peli, an Israeli-born videogame designer turned first-time filmmaker, premiered his film, "Paranormal Activity," a micro-budgeted horror film shot on hand-held video camera with a three-person crew for $11,000 in seven days (in Peli’s home, no less), premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival. Other film festivals followed, including the Slamdance Film Festival three months later, but general distribution, either theatrically, on DVD, or cable, didn’t. With Steven Spielberg’s backing, Paramount Pictures picked up the distribution/remake rights, but an actual release date proved elusive (in part due to senior management changes). Paramount finally decided to release "Paranormal Activity" simultaneously on September 25th in conjunction with Austin’s FantasticFest. From there, Paramount will release "Paranormal Activity" gradually, first in college towns and, if successful, in major cities.

All of that, however, is immaterial once moviegoers step into a movie theater and wait for Paranormal Activity to begin as the lights go down. Shot in the faux-documentary style that gave The Blair Witch Project an immediacy and urgency ten years ago (and made it a critical and commercial hit), Paranormal Activity centers on longtime couple Katie (Katie Featherston), a grad student studying to get her teaching credential, and Micah (Micah Sloat), a day trader. Katie and Micah have taken the next, tentative step toward marriage: moving in together. Katie, however, believes something, possibly a ghost, visits their bedroom at night. To prove Katie wrong (or right), a skeptical Micah buys a high-end video camera to document both their daytime interactions and their nighttime encounters with the ghost (or whatever it is).

Micah sets the video camera on a tripod facing their bed and the hallway door, the better to document the ghostly intruder. He doesn’t expect to find much, if anything at all, but over the course of several nights, the camera picks up a low rumbling sound and footsteps apparently coming up the stairs. Later, the camera picks up visual manifestations of the ghostly presence in their house, compelling Katie to contact a demonologist Michael Bayouth) for help. The demonologist’s suggestion, that the presence isn’t a ghost, but a demon or “entity” haunting Katie and not the house, leaves Katie shaken, but Micah determined to contact the ghost-demon and sever the link between Katie and the ghost-demon. Fissures develop in Katie and Micah’s relationship. Micah wants to take an assertive, confrontation approach. Katie doesn’t.

When Paranormal Activity first hit the festival circuit two years ago, one or two (or more) over-eager, genre-devoted critics called it the “scariest movie ever.” That, alas, gives Paranormal Activity far too much credit, fear wise. Although Paranormal Activity has its share of scares, most of them occur in the last half hour, with the best definitely saved for the last three encounters with the ghost-demon. Peli’s slow-burn approach allows moviegoers to develop connections with the characters and their slowly worsening predicament. It also allows moviegoers to become acclimated to Peli’s shooting style, a mix of handheld camera and static takes. Paranormal Activity is at its most effective during the long, static takes. Shot in a blue, ethereal glow, the nighttime footage has a surveillance camera feel (the better to give moviegoers a raw, unmediated, voyeuristic experience).

Taking his cues from the “less-is-definitely-more” school of horror filmmaking (e.g., "The Innocents," "The Haunting," "The Entity"), Peli mixes simple sound effects with a handful of practical effects to evoke the ghost-demon, relying on suggestion, on what moviegoers’ imaginations to elicit a sustained fear response, both during the film itself and later on as moviegoers with overactive imaginations and creaky, noisy houses will flashback to "Paranormal Activity’s" fright-inducing sequences. Unfortunately, the trailer gives away the major jump scares, the trailer is easily forgotten once the ghost-demon makes his presence felt the first time (and every time after the first time).

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17250&reviewer=402
originally posted: 09/25/09 16:00:00
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Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Slamdance Film Festival For more in the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2009 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell scary as hell not 4 gorehounds &ADD folks wont like it 4 stars
8/19/14 el culo how did i get to this ugly looking website? 1 stars
8/26/12 David Pollastrini One of the better "found footage" films 4 stars
7/17/11 Flipsider Good concept... terrible script with unlikable characters. LAME ending. Not recommended. 1 stars
2/08/11 ES I watched both endings, the more high tech of the two is def the one I'd have gone with. 4 stars
11/23/10 mr.mike It accomplishes its mission. Plenty of scares. 4 stars
11/15/10 ALICE been waiting a long time for a movie that can still scare the * out of me ! 5 stars
10/10/10 Ace-of-Stars A bit overhyped. Not bad, but nothing astounding either. Good for one sit-thru. 3 stars
6/02/10 User Name It's no masterpiece, but it does what it sets out to do: scare the bejesus out of you. 3 stars
6/02/10 Shane Callanan Incredibly scary!!! 5 stars
3/27/10 Mike Much Scarier stuff on A&E's "Ghost Hunters" - this belongs on YouTube 1 stars
3/02/10 Stanley Thai It effectively strips the securities of sleeping in your bedroom. 4 stars
3/02/10 engelheart big waste of time..sucked 1 stars
2/01/10 Roxanne Childers I'm 51 years old and had to sleep with the nite-lite on. 4 stars
1/14/10 Charles Tatum Just enough chills- and Featherston is a hottie 4 stars
12/03/09 Roy Oak Liked a lot but more than half the audience that saw with me didn't understanded and laughe 4 stars
11/27/09 Nick Awesome Movie. Got me scared chicken. Took 10 years for a film to do that again. 5 stars
11/25/09 Artemis B Gone Blair Witch was great. This film was total and complete garbage. 1 stars
11/10/09 Kim waited and waited to be scared out of my wits just didn't happen felt I wasted my money 1 stars
11/05/09 jamsl i wasted my money sad face 1 stars
11/03/09 dude scariest movie ever 5 stars
11/02/09 shell waste of time and money 1 stars
10/31/09 Jake Pack Worst Movie Ever Made In History! no joke! 1 stars
10/29/09 PAUL SHORTT A HOMEMADE HORROR FILM BLOWN ALL OUT OF PROPORTION 2 stars
10/28/09 Bob Masterpiece! Not for hyperactive idiots though. 5 stars
10/28/09 David A. A lot of it is corny and campy, but there are a couple of places where it makes you jump. 3 stars
10/27/09 Devin This movie was DISAPPOINTING. It was HORRIBLE. 1 stars
10/26/09 MAD You walked out before the best parts. What an idiot. 5 stars
10/25/09 Scottie AWFUL MOVIE. We walked out after 1 hour 1 stars
10/24/09 matt not bad, but not perfect 4 stars
10/22/09 Man Out 6 Bucks While you paid for this crap, crew partied w/your $ on Pacific Beach 1 stars
10/21/09 damalc good suspenseful buildup with no payoff. main characters were in bed for 1/3 of movie. 3 stars
10/19/09 Bnorm The person i went with cried at the end of this movie. its ridiculous 5 stars
10/19/09 NA It so freaked me out I can't stop thinking about it 5 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A Blair witch type movie with a re-filmed Hollywood Hostess twinke ending 2 stars
10/16/09 action movie fan demon stalks woman and loer in this frightful film-very memorable 4 stars
10/15/09 B solid horror flick 4 stars
10/11/09 steve terrible 1 stars
10/11/09 Obi Wan Scariest movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/08/09 Debbie Girard, The scariest movie I have ever seen. It is smart, not gore. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Sep-2009
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


Directed by
  Oren Peli

Written by
  Oren Peli

Cast
  Micah Sloat
  Katie Featherston



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