There’s little substance or meaning in today’s “found lost footage” or “handy cam” movies. It’s not like the 1970s, where films like Cannibal Holocaust were causing people to practically lose their minds in the realism, or even 1999 where The Blair Witch Project scared audiences into thinking the myth featured in the film was real. But, with films like Cloverfield that stress character development over blood and gore, I suppose that’s better than nothing. Paranormal Activity caters to those who were fans of the characters study kind of film just like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project. Katie and Micah have been living in a house and Katie has been being haunted since she was eight years old.
The point of the film is to witness the documentation of the title, the paranormal activity going in their really nice house. (Trust me; I really doubt they would have that nice of a house). For a film that was made for about $15,000, the film uses good old naïve special effects. This is to say that only one or two of the special effects are convincing. The rest of them, you think “Oh, they must have turned the TV on while they were out of the room” and so forth.
The biggest problem with the film is that it is so very slow. It’s boring, and the pace is nearly glacial. Switching between boring and uneventful night footage and daytime footage in which the actors cry, fight and complain, the film’s pace weighs it down. The storyline isn’t really original, but it doesn’t really have to be. Admittedly, the acting is a tad better in this film than Blair Witch, but it’s not as if we care anymore. It glides slowly from piece of footage to piece of footage, until it bores you to death.
What may have given this film the reputation of being a “smart and scary thriller in the tone of Blair Witch” was the fact that it was a change of pace for most horror movie goers. But that does not constitute it being called a good movie. Without engaging material, it leaves the viewer cold and distanced, a big problem for moviegoers. If you’re looking for a scary and smart movie that’s a balance of commentary and of real thrills, go watch The Crazies.
Note: If you really want to watch this film, I suppose you should stay to the end. Kind of a cop out in terms of filmmaking, the ending was worth watching. Scared me half to death. But this film won’t do to bedrooms what Psycho did for showering 50 years ago.