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Paranormal Activity (2009)
14th Dec 09
There appears to be a ghost in my home.
Upon its release in the States Paranormal Activity opened on a limited number of screens until attendances and word of mouth led to the distributors pushing the movie out into more and more cinemas with each successive week. Such a strategy paid off seeing the flick hold the number one spot over Halloween when normally the latest Saw release reigns large.
Inevitably the accompanying fuss and hype about this phenomena means that by the time the rest of the world gets to see Paranormal Activity they will, by and large, be disappointed with it and wonder what all the fuss was about. It's a movie that will split audiences down the middle, and like Marmite, you'll either love it or hate it.
It was apparent that many people at the screening attended were getting bored and from the comments overheard upon leaving it was apparent that they didn't like this movie one bit. I've got to say though that I liked it a lot. It's nice to see a back-to-basics horror movie after the slick editing and in-your-face gore that has poorly reasoned that's what scares/entertains people.
The thing is anyone going to see this must be bonkers if they really think its going to scare them. How old were you when you last saw a movie that freaked you out? Chances are you were an early teen. Do the Saw movies scare people? Nah! Only in the respect that they keep making them so why expect this to? Making you jump with cheap tricks is not scaring you, it's a quick fix. Scaring you is making a film that gets under your skin and sits with you for days after.
Paranormal Activity is, by its own admission, cheap so anyone expecting big budget thrills are deluding themselves. Go in, see it, expect cheap and expect to use your imagination rather than have some gormless ex-pop video director fill in the blanks for you.
Writer/director Oren Peli, who used his own house at the time for filming, sets up the premise in a way that doesn't feel exposition heavy, before allowing the scenario to breathe through the night-time shots of the couple's camera.
It's all very simple and all the more effective. Whereas in the similarly styled The Blair Witch Project you couldn't help but imagine it's just the directors banging on the tents to freak out those lurking within, here you buy into the concept that some careless demon has left their footprints visible in talcum powder on the bedroom floor or that they are breathing in the girl's face as she sleeps.
That the spooky happenings are not limited to when the lights go out is a plus and helps build the tension to a climax that is both sudden and shocking. In fact it's so deftly handled you may not appreciate how shocking the ending is until you are home alone at night wondering what that noise was coming from the ceiling above you.
The thumping in the attic brought to mind the original The Haunting (stay away from the 1999 remake, its a pile of pants) and whilst the acting is amateurish (waddaya expect for $19,000 budget?) the plotting keeps the imagination and interest going, for those that have an imagination that is.
For those that haven't, stay at home - you'll only be wasting your money and openly grumbling in front of people, like me, that are actually enjoying it.