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Paranormal Activity (2009)

Horror movie directed by Oren Peli

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Spooky, suspenseful horror flick made for true fans of the genre.

  • Feb 18, 2012
*** 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 (scariest movie ever my ass) and a general misunderstanding has hurt the film's reputation. It's even sadder that most people criticizing the film haven't correctly looked into it; and now, the only thing worse is the fact that a lot of people seem to think the sequels are better, and dare I say, scarier.

This is not true. Not one of the "Paranormal Activity" sequels thus far has been able to live up to what the original achieved. This is an impressive nail-biter made on a low-budget; unlike the sequels, which are basically at the level of those annoying screamers you can find all over Youtube and beyond, save for the fact that these screamers have a running time of about an hour and a half. "Paranormal Activity" does indeed have enough jump scares to entertain a younger audience, but it will probably impress an older generation as well. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the suspense is so well-executed, and the characters - along with their situation - so believable, that we can buy into the film's horrors.

Shot on a cheap, affordable digital camera; this shaky-cam horror story tells the tale of a young-adult couple, Micah and Katie, who purchase the said camera in order to capture some footage of the paranormal entities that Katie believes to be haunting their home in San Diego. When Micah isn't playing around with the new technology that money has allowed him to acquire; the camera is mounted on a tripod, located in the bedroom. It is there that the most raw, revealing of footage shall be recorded; with sound recording devices not too far away.

We are taken through several nights, in which we are required to wait a lot. For some time, there doesn't seem to be much wrong with the house; and perhaps Katie is just paranoid. But...she insists that this paranormal activity originates way back to her childhood days (at the age of 8, she says, was when she first starting having these experiences), and she even calls in a psychic. Micah is supportive of her superstitions, even though he may not always show it; but when the issue becomes dead serious, he certainly gets his shit together.

One night's footage features the bedroom door moving back and forth; another unveils loud, strange, otherworldly noises from the darkness of the downstairs kitchen. We're not so sure that this is a ghost; in fact, the characters start to doubt that early on. When the psychic arrives for his first visit (just one of two); he suggests that perhaps the invisible entity is a demon. When the couple spreads powder all around the hallway, only to reveal bird-like footprints in the morning; I'm provoked to agree with him.

One cannot call the marketing campaign of "Paranormal Activity" particularly ingenious; although it's still somewhat innovative. The film tries to sell itself off as if we're watching real footage; and had I not any common sense, I might have believed such claims. The actors - playing characters named after themselves - are utterly convincing in their respective roles; bringing a sort of believability to the overall story and lending it enough emotionally stimulating relationship drama to give the horror some balance. It may not be real, but it certainly feels like it is; and that's as close as you can get with a movie.

If you're like me and you can enjoy a slew of jump scares accompanied by some hard-hitting tension; "Paranormal Activity" will be a rewarding roller-coaster ride. I don't think it's a great or absolutely terrifying horror movie; but it makes a lot of good decisions - just one of them being not to show the demon in physical form, and only communicating its existence through sounds, or roars rather, and the aforementioned footprints - and I completely respect it. My advice is to not go in expecting it to be the scariest horror movie ever, like some of the advertisements suggest. It is not even close to being that; although it's still pretty creepy. Ultimately, I think it's just a cool, engaging demonstration of what filmmakers can do with the unlikely combination of a small budget and a large amount of ambition. It might have fared better with a particular audience had the general public not been told of its existence; but I'm here to rate films based on quality as well as my personal enjoyment, not popularity, and it's on those grounds that the film scores big.

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February 18, 2012
Sounds scary !
More Paranormal Activity (2009 movi... reviews
review by . August 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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 . January 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
82 Minutes Of My Life I Can't Ever Get Back
**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 …
review by . July 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   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
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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