Paranormal Activity is a fright to see

Jared Widman ('10)/ For Eastside

Woah.  That was the mantra echoing through my head as I watched the movie Paranormal Activity.  The movie was the directorial debut of Oren Peli, who also wrote the movie, and if this is what he can do with an 11,000-dollar indie film budget, I can’t wait to see what he can do with more.

Quite frankly, the movie terrified me immensely.  It follows Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston), a couple who have recently moved into a suburban home and buy a camera to document the paranormal activity that sometimes afflicts their house during the night.  Quite soon they find out that there is a real live demon in their house, and that’s when the real horror starts.

I’d first like to point out that the characters and dialogue were both very believable.  Micah’s jokes throughout the movie both relieve tension for the audience and the characters, and both Micah’s and Katie’s reactions and progressions are all very realistic throughout the movie, and most importantly their fear is believable and seems genuine.  Of course, the acting wasn’t the best, but it was extremely decent for an $11,000 budget.  In fact, that was the best thing about the movie was the stark realism – it is displayed on a Cloverfield style shaky-cam camera work, which doesn’t detract too much from the movie while at the same time adds an intense layer to the realism already portrayed, which makes the movie even more frightening.  Note that this movie isn’t a Blair Witch Clone – It’s much better.

What I find best about this movie is that it doesn’t do into the normal horror movie route – there is no score to tell the viewer when to be scared.  The noises are not so loud that they surprise you into being scared; they are truly frightening and creepy in a very subtle way.  The “paranormal activities” in the movie are creepy and scary by themselves; the movie doesn’t need to trick you into being scared.  Often, in the night scenes (the most terrifying ones, as that is when the most activity occurs), not a lot is happening.  The camera doesn’t move.  All of the actions are subtle.  Yet the audience still cringes and hides their eyes in fright.  These techniques combined make the movie very refreshing in a world of terrible modern horror movies.

The one bad point I have about this movie, quite honestly, was with the story.  The movie was essentially this: “A Demon screws with a couple that moves into a suburban-style house.”  While certainly frightening, the movie still lacks a certain driving force to make it absolutely can’t-go-to-sleep terrifying.  Of course, it has some of the creepiest and scariest scenes in any horror movie, but without a good brain exercise to go with it, the whole experience fell a bit short in my expectations.

3 out of 5

Rating System:

1: Is “The Wicker Man”

2: I did not like it.

3: I liked it.

4: I liked it a lot/I loved it. 

5: Good luck trying to get a five.