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An interesting take on a horror-type film
Paranormal Activity (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Paranormal Activity (DVD)
Advantages: Realistically portrayed, pretty convincing in parts, unusual presentation
Disadvantages: The confusing beginning of the film, and for me, the ending
RELEASED: 2007, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85mins
DIRECTOR, PRODUCER & SCREENPLAY WRITER: Oren Peli
Katie (Katie Featherston)
Micah (Micah Fredrichs)
I love a good creepy film, and was pleased to see Paranormal Activity (which I'd heard very positive things about) for sale in my local Sainsbury's DVD clearout for a mere £3. Despite being told by quite a few people that it's a very good film, they'd revealed nothing about the plot, so I watched it raw, not really knowing what to expect. I envisaged it would be a standard type of psychological thriller/ghostly sort of movie with all the usual hallmarks such as strange noises in the night, the token thunderstorm and candles flickering in the top tower of a Gothic mansion somewhere in New England.
On clicking the 'play' button and observing the very first part of the film, I was first intrigued that the general setting was so far away from tradition that it interested me, yet I was also rather bored and confused. I felt that the camera angles were too jerky and clumsy - making my head spin after a while - plus I felt that the diction from the actors, particularly Katie Featherston, was poor and it was difficult to comprehend what she was saying. For some reason though I stuck with it, and I'm very glad I did.
Katie moves into her boyfriend Micah's beautiful Californian house....the first question which struck me was, how could someone so young afford a house like that?
It seems that wherever she goes, and as far back as her childhood, Katie has been followed and 'haunted' by some sort of 'presence'. Micah wants to help nail this phenomenon, so he sets up cameras around the house and tweaks his computer network to pick up on various 'happenings' when Katie's inner resident spook begins its activities.
The couple seek advice from a paranormal expert, who informs them that it's not a ghost - more like a demon-type thing, and recommends somebody else whose expertise is more in that field of the paranormal....unfortunately, the person he recommends is away and can't attend the house at that time.
The film is largely set over a few consecutive evenings and nights, during which Katie's 'demon' (for want of a better expression) torments the couple with strange voices, opening and closing doors, and a plethora of other spooky goings-on. As time passes, Katie becomes more distressed, and Micah is keen to communicate with the 'demon'.
Once the initial confusion (for me) of the movie had settled, I began to enjoy certain aspects of it and was interested in the filming style, which was done in an almost 'fly on the wall' documentary genre. Most, if not all of the scenes were short and clipped, and it had all the hallmarks of a play rather than a movie, or perhaps even reality TV.
Another thing which pleased me was that there were no silly moments....all of the 'haunting' (for want of a better expression) was done with a degree of subtlety - there were no 'Krugeresque' blood and guts scenes, no bodies falling from cupboards with samurai swords pierced through their innards and no demonic children with their heads spinning whilst projectile vomiting green gunge.
The buildup was nicely laid-back, although I can't say that the acting abilities of the two main characters made me want to award them any accolades, but looking at it from another angle, maybe that's what was so good about it? I felt that I was actually watching the real lives of a real, non-fictional young couple having to deal with a malevolent paranormal phenomenon which had invaded their privacy and entered straight into their relationship. Once past the first post of desperate confusion, this settled into what I can only describe as a strange, rather short film which managed to come across as very realistic.
Aside from the disjointed beginning, the only real complaint I do have about the film as a whole, is that I was rather disappointed with the ending. I'm not clear as to what I expected or what I would want an alternative ending to be, but I don't like it as it stands.
Though I may leave a large expanse of time before doing so, I enjoyed Paranormal Activity enough to want to watch it again in the future, so sorry charity shop - you're not having this one....well, not just yet. I have a feeling that with one or two subsequent viewings, I may see something more in the movie as a whole than what I've just witnessed this evening. To me, that is one hallmark of a reasonable, or even good film - further viewings can reveal aspects that had previously been overlooked.
Another minor little gripe was that if this were a real-life situation - and though I know the film is fictional, it was presented as such - I think the couple would have been a lot more frightened and unnerved than how they actually appeared. I know I would have been scared crapless myself if I were in the same situation, especially if I knew (as Katie was told by the paranormal expert) that she was carrying the phenomenon around with her and that it wasn't the house which was the problem. One can move away from a 'haunted house', but one can't get away from oneself, as we carry us around with us all the time.
I would strongly recommend Paranormal Activity to anyone who enjoys creepy films, and say that it has been a refreshing change to watch a film of this genre presented from a different angle to usual. If you can grit your teeth through the first 15 or so minutes of the film, past the confusing camera angles and disjointed speech, once you get into the body of it, it's an all-change situation where you become drawn into what's happening and it becomes....not what I'd call riveting exactly, but certainly very watchable and it held my attention in a fixed way until the very end, even though I'd by no means say it's anywhere near the best horror film of all time.....it's interesting rather than blockbusting.
Currently, Paranormal Activity can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: From £4.99 to £25.40
Used: From £2.98 to £12.00
A delivery charge of £1.24 must be added to the above prices.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: A low-budget movie that definitely hits the spot