REVIEW: Paranormal Activity (2007)

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

One of the most profitable movies of all time. This little 15K budget horror flick went on to make 100M domestic and was probably the most talked about movie in 2009. Paranormal Activity follows Katie (Featherston) and Micah (Sloat) through the eyes of the new camera that Micah bought to film the paranormal activity that is or isn’t happening in their house. Katie thinks that a demon of some sort has been following her since her youth. Micah tapes their room while they sleep and gets some interesting results.

I remember seeing the trailer for this way back in ’07 before it premiered at the ScreamFest Film Festival and it looked pretty damn interesting. Any movie shot in first person instantly has my attention. The movie played once at ScreamFest and then Paramount bought the movie and it was never shown again. Paramount’s idea was to shelf the original, remake it, and put the original on the special features on the Blu-ray of the remake.

These plans didn’t come to fruition after showing the original PA in screenings to get reactions for the remake that was about to go into production and the screenings were getting amazing buzz. Paramount decided to just release the original and then after 2 years, there still wasn’t any news about the film. On Sept. 25, 2009, Paramount put the film out to 13 different cities and the buzz was phenomenal. Eventually the PA website had a thing where you could demand where the next set of screenings were going to be. After more screenings, Paranormal Activity eventually was released in limited release on Oct. 9th. Paramount said that if the website got 1 million demands to play in cities, it would release the movie in wide release. It did just one day after going into limited release. It went wide on October 16th and I was in line at the theaters on the opening day and I was fuckin’ ready.

It was an complete mistake to watch this movie in the theaters. People wouldn’t shut the fuck up. People were texting and laughing at scary parts. Macho guys were pretending not to be scared by talking to their girlfriend about how unscary it is. People are shouting out jokes in the middle of intense, nail biting scenes and absolutely ruining the mood. This is probably one of my last visits to the theater after this catastrophe. I didn’t wait 2 years and spend 15 bucks to watch a movie to listen to dumbasses crack jokes and talk throughout the movie. If you don’t like the movie, fuckin’ leave. Don’t screw up other people experiences. It was scary, but the tension and the suspense was completely gone because of the barbaric moviegoers in my theater.

I really couldn’t even give my concrete opinion on the movie since I really didn’t experience it fully. So I rented it and watched it at 2AM with my headphones on to maximize the scariness of it and I really didn’t find it scary. Yes, the idea of thuds and bumps in the night is a pretty scary idea, but right when the movie was starting to get real scary, it fuckin’ ends. Was it creepy? Damn right. Was it the scariest movie of all time? Not even close. The theatrical ending is pretty much a failure. I didn’t need the CGI face and it made the movie ending abruptly and leave a bad taste in your mouth. The original, screener ending is far more terrifying and just down right creepy (If you want a laugh, watch the third ending on the Blu-ray, it’s so terrible). I liked that during the night scenes, when the demon was around that you heard a very low frequency bass until the demon disappeared. That definitely gave the night scenes a scary feel.

I just thought the movie had no substance. Yes, it has some spooky scenes, but what else did it have? Unnecessary ‘funny’ jokes that could have been easily left out? Yes. Over the top acting? Yes (“I’m so fucking sick of this!! UGH!!”). Does it have character development? No. I didn’t feel for these characters and really just wanted the nights scenes to pop up. If it was written right, I would be feeling for these characters so much that when “Night #13” or whatever would pop up, I would be totally crestfallen.

I’m glad and I’m not that this movie is getting the hype it’s getting. I’m glad because I like seeing a box office successful movie that isn’t a remake of a Japanese horror movie or another money grabbin’ Saw sequel. Although with the announcement of PA 2 (to be released in Oct. 2010), it looks like we will have 2 annual horror movies that will start to get old after the third entry in the series. I’m not glad because the movie really doesn’t deserve the hype in the way that it’s not “the scariest movie ever”. I do give the movie props for what it did. Showing that a small, little independent movie can be made into a multi-million dollar movie and can get word of mouth like you read about. All in all, it’s not terrible, but it’s not one of the best horror movies ever. There are plenty better out there.



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