It's hard to believe The Blair Witch Project is ten years old. It was the first movie I remember being truly disturbed by, and all the more because there was talk it was real. Sure the concept of “found” footage is pointless nowadays with authenticity being able to prove or disprove, but there's still the films that take the concept and make you question for a second whether it's real, Paranormal Activity is one such film. If you're a believer of ghosts this movie will terrify you, if you enjoy the horror adage that less is more, this movie will terrify you. Paranormal Activity is one of the few films in years where I screamed out loud.
The film follows suburban couple Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) as they record the mysterious sounds and events that take place in their home. By consulting a psychic they discover that whatever entity they're dealing with is focused on Katie, and won't stop until it gets her.
Sure the premise of Paranormal Activity I wrote above sounds corny, but if you read documented cases of poltergeists, the idea of a spirit latching onto a person and wanting their spirit seems real. The whole premise of the movie is heightened in fear if you're a believer of things that go bump in the night. The couple records the events on a camera they set up in their home so most of the action takes place when the camera is mounted in their bedroom. All the scares revolve around watching the couple sleep and things move around them. Director Oren Peli is a master of using moving doors, noises and things seen off-camera to make you terrified since your imagination can conjure up something worse than what could be shown at you. Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston are nice, normal people that you come to enjoy and really get a feel for their life before the events, as seen when Micah tries to have some fun with the camera. Even when events take a turn for the worse and two are documenting their arguments, it's all very realistic and probably mirrors fights couples have everyday, ghosts not withstanding. Really they are the only two people in the film, next to a few appearances from Katie's sister and the psychic who add to the list of the list of people that shape and define Micah and Katie. The less you see and hear about this movie, the better, especially since the recent previews actually spoil the end! I never jump or make noise during a horror film, but you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting for something to pop through that door, and when something unexpected happens you'll freak out too.
The only issue with this movie is shaky cam, considering it's a couple with a home camera. If you're queasy or prone to motion sickness unfortunately this is not the movie for you. I had the misfortune of taking a person who couldn't handle shaky cam and she had to leave the theater. It's really bad when the actors are moving or running. I do say the technique is abandoned towards the end as Micah and Katie get sick of bringing the camera around, eventually they just dump it somewhere and let it run, but the first hour is nauseating at times.
Go see this movie in a theater, with a packed house and you won't be disappointed. Even if you don't believe in ghosts this movie is an effective horror film that we haven't seen in ages. You feel Micah and Katie's fear and when the ending arrives, you'll be shocked and disturbed. I loved it and would see it again if possible, just be aware of the excessive camera movement. Paranormal Activity gets a 4.5/5.