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Overall Rating

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 Rob Gonsalves

"Who goes there?"
4 stars

A haunted-house movie is scary; a haunted-person movie is scarier.

Katie (Katie Featherston), one of the two protagonists of the runaway video-verite hit Paranormal Activity, has been visited after dark by a strange entity since she was eight years old. The entity, or demon, or whatever it is, doesn’t do much: it clomps around in the dead of night, and sometimes it whispers her name or breathes on her while she sleeps. Katie is now living with Micah (Micah Sloat), an arrogant day-trader who’s never met a challenge he couldn’t bluff or buy his way out of ... until now. Micah buys a camera with the intent of recording any unusual wolf-hour events. This seems to make the entity angry.

Paranormal Activity, shot a few years ago in one week by Oren Peli for around $11,000, has been called the new Blair Witch Project. This is an unfair comparison, since Blair Witch, for me and many others, was more irritating than scary; Paranormal Activity actually makes its premise work and delivers substantial creeps. It is not, despite some excitable claims, the scariest movie ever, not unless this is your first horror movie. But the more apt comparison is to 2004’s Open Water, another minimalist low-budget chiller that derived its tension from the terror of a young couple faced with a situation they could neither comprehend nor control.

On one level, the film is another supposed-found-footage event — it consists entirely of whatever Micah’s camera catches — and sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are more than a few scenes wherein you wonder why Micah doesn’t just put the damn camera down (and an exasperated Katie more than once tells him to shut it off). But I accepted this as Micah’s way of trying to shape and master the uncanny with technology, a passive yet invasive process that just makes things worse. He won’t listen to Katie or anyone else; he brings in a Ouija board over everyone’s objections. I was reminded of the dynamic in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, in which the know-it-all shrink’s power wilted before the ravages of nature and of female rage. Like Willem Dafoe, Micah wants to fix the situation; more, he wants to be, and feel like, The One Who Fixes It. But no one can, or will.

The money scenes happen in the darkness of Katie and Micah’s bedroom as they sleep (or are awakened). At one point, Katie gets out of bed and stands staring at the dozing Micah; the chill comes from the timecode on fast-forward — we realize she’s been standing there motionless for two hours. There are also the usual bumps, whispers, odd omens (a found photograph). The increasingly sleep-deprived couple start to crack at the seams, snapping at each other; they may as well be contending with noisy neighbors or rats in the walls. But the entity is getting bolder, more aggressive, and nobody seems to know what it wants from Katie.

Paranormal Activity lapses into cheese now and then — there’s internet footage of an ill-fated exorcism that seems to be there just to freak out young’uns who haven’t seen The Exorcist. A psychic (Mark Fredrichs), though well-played in a low key, is there essentially as a courier for exposition. And the version you’ll be seeing in theaters ends on an over-the-top note (suggested by Steven Spielberg) that sort of betrays the low-tech scares that precede it (I prefer the earlier finale, known as the 2007 Ending).

But most of the film is legitimately eerie, working on our fear not just of the unknown but of the uncontrollable — the terror you can’t run from, because it’ll follow you everywhere until it dies or you do.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17250&reviewer=416
originally posted: 10/24/09 16:20:32
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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
10/28/09 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
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  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Oren Peli

Written by
  Oren Peli

  Micah Sloat
  Katie Featherston

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