Paranormal Activity

"Very Good"

Paranormal Activity Review


While this gimmicky movie creates a superb creep-out atmosphere, it's never actually very scary. There are a couple of good jolts, but the idea itself is more unsettling than any anxiety the filmmaker can generate.

Katie and Micah have been hearing odd noises in the night, so Micah buys a video camera to record things while they're sleeping. These eerie experiences have haunted Katie all her life, so they consult a psychic (Fredrichs) who tells them it sounds like a demon rather than a ghost. Over the next three weeks, there's an increasing amount of night-time activity, starting with loud bumps and swaying light fixtures, then escalating to sleepwalking, sinister footsteps and freaky physical attacks.

The film is set up like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield as a collection of found footage; there are virtually no credits, as if they're fooling anyone.

And while this home-made approach is extremely tight, never abandoning the perspective, it's not like we haven't seen it all before. Fortunately, most scenes are shot with a tripod, which minimalises that shaky-cam effect. And as with the previous films (see also Rec/Quarantine), we never for a moment believe it.

Featherston and Sloat are a thoroughly convincing couple, improvising much of their dialog and realistically portraying the strain that comes between them as these events get increasingly frightening. It's also remarkable how well they keep their performances in check, never going over the top with their terrified reactions; like we would, they respond to things with a balanced mixture of humour, curiosity, anger and fear. The problem is that it's not actually that scary for us as moviegoers.

Writer-director Peli creates an eerie mood by setting the story in what looks like every suburban house in America (and there are other nods to Poltergeist as well), although we never have a sense that either Katie or Micah have a job that can pay for it. As we wait (and wait) for something to happen, Peli indulges in extremely clever touches, from the staticky sound mix to shadows, wind and some chilling physicality. But if he wanted to make a movie that was truly horrifying, he needed to set up and build the suspense properly. Ramping things up more quickly would have helped a lot.



Paranormal Activity

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th October 2009

Box Office USA: $107.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $193.4M

Budget: $15 thousand

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Blumhouse Productions, Solana Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 159 Rotten: 33

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Katie, as Micah, Mark Fredrichs as The Psychic, Amber Armstrong as Amber, Ashley Palmer as Diane

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

Advertisement
The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.