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Paranormal Activity (2009)

Horror movie directed by Oren Peli

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82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back

  • Jan 19, 2010
**Cracking knuckles**

The scariest, most terrifying experience you could possibly have in the theaters?? Hmm, I digress.
I seem to remember writing a review for Cloverfield back in 2008. Oh wait, I also wrote a column for that Blair Witch Project travesty also in 1999. Needless to say this handheld camera film gimmick doesn't seem to be getting any better nor do I appreciate them anymore after 10 & a half years. I am steering clear from anymore of these "scariest movie of all time" claims from here on out.
Sadly, we have here another disappointing case of independent horror which seemed destined for instant cult or sleeper status. While the movie-going audiences are still in some sort of whirlwind of conflicting ideas about what horror should be & whether or not they actually like horror films, this is the saddened result of a cinematic suppository which fails to satisfy on any great level. These boring, overlong films aren't entertaining nor do they even provide a sense of instant gratification & I deeply regret having voted for this movie by investing a single hard-earned dollar at the local multiplex. Unfortunately,I can't get my one dollar back & I've lost 82 minutes of life that cannot be returned.  

Katie & Micah are a young suburban couple who desperately try to battle a supernatural presence in their home while making sense of the footage captured through modern technology. Katie feels that she has terrorized by some entity since the young age of 8 & wants to be free of this evil force which somehow manages to follow her wherever she goes. Micah, on the other hand, feels he can abolish it with his overly Mano-Mano pride & doesn't wish to involve any third parties at his girlfriend's insistence. Katie does hire a psychic who convinces her throughout the film that forces are wreaking havoc within the home although the couple continues to merely record the activity & makes no attempt to evacuate the premises.     

While only 82 minutes, only about 14-15 of that is spent with any paranormal activity & the rest is spent with two amateur actors who pretend to be a couple haunted by some demonic presence. I've seen better acting in a local bar by two drunkards doing their best on karaoke night. As far as the paranormal activity goes, there are no real scares to speak of. Who hasn't heard footsteps or things that go bump in the night? In fact, there are doors at my current place of employment that open all throughout the night but I don't jump at the sound of them nor do I suspect any evil forces at play.  Without the proper atmosphere & lighting, you can't possibly expect any chills or thrills from something as flat as Paranormal Activity.

If annoying dialog & slow pacing without any real atmosphere to speak of weren't bad enough, why do always find these nimrods in every handheld camera-film trying to capture every last semi-traumatic experience. If you were in a haunted house of sorts & you felt that you're friends were in some sort of eminent danger, wouldn't you drop that goddamn camera & try to assist your friends in their time of peril? Perhaps it's just me & my opinion only but this is yet one more strike against the film for being unbelievable & downright hokey. While no one really needs to shred Paranormal Activity for being unrealistic, it should be blatantly obvious in my book.    

Although I'm sure there will be many who will feel I've been too harsh with one of the most talked about films of 2009, I find it somewhat puzzling that so many have offered the undeserved four star rating. Somehow this film is anything but refreshing although the box office is usually flooded with unnecessary horror remakes & films catering to the Harry Potter/ Twilight fan base. Sheesh, and people are trashing Rob Zombie's films?? Hm-mm.  
82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back 82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back 82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back 82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back 82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back

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August 14, 2011
Not to be viewed without its accompanying Rifftrax commentary, this is godawful, far worse than I expected. Micah Sloat is a colossal douche on the order of Jason Mraz.

One correction: this, Cloverfield and eighty-odd percent of The Blair Witch Project are videos. They're not films, and oughtn't be classed with or compared to handheld classics like Murnau's The Last Laugh, Bertolini/Padovan/de Liguoro's L'Inferno, the best of Godard's and Herzog's early work and so many others.
August 16, 2011
You've got a valid point there. Why do we call these movies from the get go? LOL Great examples by the way.
August 20, 2011
Motion pictures are especially (though not exclusively) so monikered in North America; to be fair, two syllables in lieu of four renders reference more efficient! The use of "movie" as a pejorative for mere entertainment and "film" its counterpart in description of artistic endeavors in the medium (film, video or otherwise) is a conversational trademark of the pseudo-intellectual dilettante that I can't abide!
May 03, 2010
I thought this was ok but totally agree with you on Zombie man, how can they hate.
January 20, 2011
The handheld camera thing actually predates Blair Witch by many years although Blair Withc was notorious for being the one that had mainstream success. Paranormal Activity remains popular because of the hype surrounding it just like Blair Witch and Cloverfield. None of them are particularly great films but they somehor fair well with mainstream audiences.
January 26, 2010
When you consider an initial budget of $11,000 you've got to be a little impressed with what they accomplished. I'm sure that it cost a lot more after it finally made it to the screen though. BLAIR WITCH cost about $25,000 but by the time time Artisan put it on the screen it was probably more like $100,000. I liked the last bit and the final shot in the flick, but basically I thought that it was too long and too slow even at only 82 minutes. It'll be interesting to see what they do with their next film.
February 05, 2010
For the budget, it was ok I guess. I found myself struggling to stay awake really. The last scene was interesting enough but that wasn't really a payoff for wasting 82 minutes. I'm amazed at how much people still gravititate to these handheld camera films and rate them so highly but Im usually not impressed by most of them. Maybe the director will make something down the road I will like much more. Fingers crossed.
February 06, 2010
That's what I'm hoping for. Considering the budget it wasn't a bad first offering. But you are right that there was a lot of dead space, and I hate things that rely on idiot devices like Ouija boards.
February 06, 2010
The only film I can recall ever truly enjoying with that device was Witchboard. I guess I loved it because the vhs copies were always readily available when I was a teen & HBO played it quite a bit so there wasn't any escaping it. I did own a vhs tape of it for awhile.
February 07, 2010
WITCHBOARD had it's moments, but I think you may have enjoyed it more than I did because you were so much younger when you saw it.
February 11, 2010
If I was to watch Witchboard again at 35, I don't know if it would have nearly the same effect as it did when I was 12 or 14. I think it would be an okay film but I wouldn't sing it's praises as much now.
February 11, 2010
I'm sure you wouldn't...unless you have a thing for Tawny Kitaen.
February 11, 2010
I do have a copy of Gwendoline in my collection that I almost forgot about. It's more of a guilty pleasure than anything else but can be fun when you're in the mood for something rather goofy. I think it was initially called The Perils Of Gwendoline In The Land Of Yik Yak.
February 11, 2010
How could they miss with a title like that!?
January 20, 2010
Why am I not surprised by this? Something tells me that I'll... like it since we seem to have differing opinions about these types of movies :P I haven't seen it yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entertaining break down. Thanks for sharing, Brian! :)
January 20, 2010
Hey Deb, I don't know. It obviously not for me but a lot of people do enjoy this film. I would suggest a rental rather than a purchase if you feel compelled to see it at all. I'm glad that I didn't purchase it myself. And you're more than welcome again. Thank you for your feedback & for your constant support. :-)
January 19, 2010
ah...the sicko returns with a review LOL! I'm actually not surprised that you hated this movie. This is a sensory experience and meant not to feel like a movie. Though I see your points I guess I saw them from a different light. Katie was convinced that they cannot leave because the presence would follow (and when they did try to leave it was too late) as for dropping the camera to help, I am with you which is why I disliked "Cloverfield". I can forgive the hand held cam in this movie since Micah was dead set on recording the events which is why he was so annoying and irritating; he did let the camera go at certain points in the film but it was still angled at Katie. As with [REC], they were journalists so of course they are recording. Well, I see you really disliked the characters, I for one thought the acting was amateurish too, which comes to its shortfall, in a reality-based atmosphere, great acting is vital. Micah was just lacking. The characters did lack characterization as was intended, after all, we don't know anything about anyone we see on the street.

Great review so we'll just agree to disagree, now I need to send you stuff to make you suck your thumbs LMAO. oh, I didn't trash Zombie's film, I gave it a 3 (good but with a lot of flaws)
January 20, 2010
I don't know what to tell you bro. I'm really glad you liked it but it's far from being 4 star material in my book & I'm still not getting why this one was so popular whereas all anyone could say about Zombie's H2 was how he can't write dialog for shit or how he only remakes other people's films. His dialog actually is quite intelligient, witty, & appropriate in my book. Yeah, the f-bomb is used a lot but what horror film (or excuse of a horror film doesn't?) On the other hand, the dialog in Paranormal sems forced as most of it would appear improvised in my book like something a high school freshman would write. There are some good handheld camera films but unfortunately Paranormal wasn't one of them. If you like this kind of film (and personally I usually don't), you would probably LOVE something like The Last Broadcast or Under The Raven's Wing which are far better films & much more disturbing than the inferior Paranormal Activity. Thanks for the feedback Woopak. Maybe next time I will review something we can both sink our teeth into.
January 20, 2010
Raven's Wing is good and as with the Last Broadcast (it's that the same as "The Signal", I dunno) mayhap I'm mistaken. It's cool, bro, I still love yah LOL! I hope you haven't bought STRANGE CIRCUS...
January 22, 2010
Hmm, not sure if The Signal is the same film or not but Last Broadcast deals with the search for the Jersey Devil. It's pretty creepy for it's type. No, I was planning on buying Strange Circus with my Borders Bucks but still hadn't gotten around to buying it. I luv you too. There are plenty of films we will agree on. LOL
January 22, 2010
don't buy it, bro, I'll send you a copy and probably one of KINKY KONG too...I'll mail it to you sometime next week along with Dave's thingie..
January 22, 2010
Ahh,bro. You didn't have to do that. Hugs!
January 26, 2010
No, those are 2 different films.
More Paranormal Activity (2009 movi... reviews
review by . February 18, 2012
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*** out of ****    "Paranormal Activity" is a rare case. It's the kind of horror movie in which those behind it would like nothing more to indulge and please devote fans of the horror genre; but nevertheless, the response from such a community is sharply divided. From personal experience; reactions seem to range from "loved it" to "hated it". This is unfortunate, because the movie tries hard and emerges rather successful; it would just appear that somewhat misleading marketing …
review by . August 22, 2011
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Folks my search is over.
Constantine, Queen of the damned, Drag me to hell, Underworld, House on haunted hill, The Amityville horror, An American Haunting, The haunting in Connecticut, The ring, The grudge, The Omen, The Hills have eyes, 1408, Ghost Ship, Jeepers Creepers, Halloween, Darkness Falls, Silent hill, etc I could go on and on and on. None of the movies I’ve named or could name even come close to Paranormal Activity.       If you’ve read my Drag me to hell review then you …
review by . October 10, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
 Remember a few years ago when “The Blair Witch Project” overcame genre expectations and became a blockbuster cult hit? That film had several other films that were inspired by its “Mockumentary” style gimmick; “Cloverfield”, “[REC]” and “Quarantine” to name a few. Well, writer/director Oren Peli’s “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” is another film that follows in the footsteps of those films. It premiered in the 2007 Screamfest …
review by . July 30, 2010
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   The sheer fact that this film was produced for around 10,000 USD is something to be praised. Although the actors' skills weren't top notch, there was definitely a notable "horror film" feeling broadcast to moviegoers through watching Paranormal Activity. While watching the movie, all of the points that make a good horror film are present – you know, the “what the hell are you doing, no! Call the demonologist!” and “ are you crazy?!! get out …
review by . August 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Banking on the added "realism" of using a home video camera, "Paranormal Activity" plays out on the screen in a fashion very similar to films such as "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield." Much like these two films, the success of this movie relies heavily on the execution of this gimmicky style of filming.     The film opens with Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) fairly settled into their new home. Micah has purchased a camera in order to capture "paranormal" …
review by . October 21, 2009
Before I start the review, I'd just like to mention that I'm an avid horror movie fan.  In the ocean of horrible horror movies, it's a challenge to find those few hidden treasures laying under the sand.  This movie fares pretty well, but it's not because it is "really scary".  Personally, I didn't think this movie was all that scary.  But gauging the crazy reactions from others in the movie theater... some people were really genuinely scared out of their minds.  …
Quick Tip by . July 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Extremely overrated. Not scary. A waste of time. Dumb dumb
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
Crazy... This movie really got me... I love scary movies but this is over the edge...
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2010
Just one question. How much was everyone here paid to rate this travesty 4 stars?
Quick Tip by . February 27, 2010
Creepy movie and pretty cool that it was made for under $15,000. I like the original ending with the cops rather than the Hollywood ending.
About the reviewer
Brian ()
Ranked #13
I've spent years trying to make others happy & not really focusing on what's most important in my own life. Having said that, my own health & security are paramount so now I'm more … more
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Paranormal Activity
is a 2009 mockumentary horror film written and directed by Oren Peli. The movie premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in US on October 14, 2007, and at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 18, 2008. The movie is currently in limited release in several cities in the United States as of October of 2009.[2] The movie centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. The movie is presented through the camera set up by the couple to capture the paranormal activity.

Like The Blair Witch ProjectParanormal Activity is an impressive and harrowing indie chiller that derives much of its terror--and there is quite a bit of that in its brief running time--by playing on the most basic of human fears: that which cannot be seen. Though one might assume that the point-of-view aesthetic had been worn out thanks toCloverfieldandQuarantine(and, lest one forgets,Blair Witch),Paranormalmakes excellent use of the single-camera technique, which helps to not only preserve the film's central conceit--a new-minted couple records the increasingly threatening supernatural phenomena that have invaded their home on a camcorder--but underscore the realism needed to drive home the low-fi (if completely persuasive) special effects. The approach is also crucial to the film's suspense, which unfolds in long, largely broken takes to nerve-rattling effect. Not every horror fan--or moviegoer--will fall for the ...
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Movies, Horror Movies, Supernatural, Paranormal Activity


Director: Oren Peli
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 16 October 2009 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Oren Peli
DVD Release Date: December 29, 2009
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: Paramount, Blumhouse Productions
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