Paranormal Activity

OCTOBER 14, 2007


A scary haunted house movie! A scary haunted house movie! And it’s not even Poltergeist!

Yes, Paranormal Activity managed to do something that almost no other haunted house movie in the past 25 years has managed to do: actually be scary (1408 got a few jumps out of me, though nowhere near as effective as this). Like Blair Witch, it’s presented entirely through self-shot footage (or from a fixed tripod in their bedroom), and ramps up from simple noises to truly freaky ‘violent’ acts. The increasingly terrifying nature of the scares is what really makes the film work – if you just watched the finale by itself, you’d be pretty perplexed as to why anyone was scared by it (just like Mike standing in a corner isn’t really that interesting unless you’ve been totally sucked into the previous 80 minutes).

Also, as the film is entirely digital video that looks no better/worse than what any average Joe can shoot, the scares are fully believable. There’s a subconscious acceptance that what you are seeing is real when it’s digital video (it’s not all glossed up and “cinematic”), which is what made those Ratchet and Clank commercials work so great. So when added to the perfectly paced ramping of scares, it proves incredibly frightening.

The acting is also good, something that posed a problem with a few characters in Diary of the Dead. There’s really only two people in the film, and unlike Heather in Blair Witch, they never get too shrill or just plain unlikable, even as they begin to bicker with one another. I totally believe them as a couple, and they sell their fear quite well too. And the film does a good job of making their actions with the camera logical for the most part (100% admiration for how the finale is “filmed”).

The hilarious thing about the whole presentation was that it was preceded by 10 minutes of some new A&E show called Paranormal State, which deals with a “real” paranormal research team. The footage was cheesy and laughable, and without any sort of suspense. So yes, the “real show” wasn’t as believable as the movie that we knew damn well was fake. Then the guys who host/produce the show came out after the movie and more or less dismissed the film while tooting their own horn. Wisely, I (and many others) just left them to suck their own cocks while I talked to the filmmaker/cast of Paranormal Activity in the lobby. Which is the great thing about Screamfest, and any independent film festival in general; you can often just chat up with the filmmaker after the film and not be bothered by 40 other people in the process. Not to mention laugh at the actors in stupid basic cable shows for talking about things like “Dead time”.

Not sure if there’s a release date for this one (it doesn’t even have an IMDb page!) but hopefully it will play in theaters (though I suspect it will play just as well at home). Take it from me, dismisser of nearly every film of its kind I have ever seen – this one DOES work as an actual ‘scary’ movie.

What say you?


  1. Cool, I would love to see it! Let us know if you hear anything about a release date! Are you having fun out there????

  2. Sounds intriguing but I just watched the trailer on YouTube and the female lead is rather Heather-esque if you can dig it. Hopefully she's not as annoying.

  3. Like alot of reviews have said, it does work as a real scary movie, because this is not like fake stuff (cough*Blair Witch Project*cough). I saw the trailer and my first thoughts when i saw the trailer for the first time was, "Is this real?, this is scary if it is!" I agree with the critics and fans of haunted house films, the overall film (although it's fake) convinces the audience that this is a real home video about a couple living in a REAL haunted house and not a "A Haunting In (type place here)" documentary! I really want to see this film now, not in 2 years! Like everyone is saying, "release the film now!" not when the sequel comes out!

    Believe me, I have seen alot of haunted house films(Poltergiest,Haunted Hill(1999),The Grudge,The Others etc.), none of them made my heart race at the speed this film did! You want to know something scary?, i have only seen the trailer(due to the fact it is not in theatres yet), and that alone made my heart race at the same rate if not faster than me talking to girl that i like! NOW THAT IS SCARY! LOL

  4. I still can´t believe they kept this one for TWO years and they still released it so slowly and quietly. It is a very good movie but sadly, a lot of people are going to be dissapointed due the ultra Hype that's receiving, not so much for the movie itself.
    On a side note i was kinda bored for the first part (I actually checked my watch!)and some laughs here and there (by some noisy chicks) but when the real PUNCH started AND when the movie finished, THE SILENCE in the Theater said it all... just one word in everybody´s mind "DAAAAAAAAAMN!"

    And BTW Bc. when you saw this movie ... which ending did you see and which one you think worked better? I read TWO supposedly "original endings" so I am kinda confused.

  5. Fun movie but the CGI ending blew it for me. I want to see the original endings before Spielberg screwed with it.

  6. I didn't really get into it as much as everyone else, including the guy sitting next to me who's seen as many horror movies as anyone but you.... I just thought it was kind of creepy. But it's worthy of being compared to The [godly] Blair Witch Project. And SHIT.... that ending was far superior to the "kind of creepy" stuff that preceded it.

  7. I saw this movie last weekend with my 9-year-old daughter. She loves horror flicks and it was her 2nd viewing. I thought it was quite good and very creepy. I saw it with the quietest movie crowd ever. You could hear people say stuff like "There's a shadow!" and give a nervous laugh. Every night when they would begin filming, you could cut the tension with a knife because you didn't know what was going to happen next.

  8. First of all, I love your blog.

    I'm a horror movie vet. Rarely do they make me scream. The Descent gave me a few good scares, but this one? I literally screamed, out loud, like Katie in the film. I practically jumped out of my seat. And the scene in the hallway? Full body chills. Anything that can give me that kind of reaction is quality scary movie.

    A++++ I wish I'd seen it in theaters, though something tells me, I'll be scared for days after watching it in the comfort of my own home.

  9. hmmm...I did not actually think it was that scary...did I enjoy it yes. Like what other guy said the beginning was a bore-fest and when it finally got going I had a smile on my face. Yes a smile. Not a shocked face or scared face...but a smile. I enjoyed gags and ambient creepy noises (this movie did a better job at than overly obviously fake crap in Ghost Hunters and what not)...and this movie at least lived up to the hype than the stupidest movie ever, next to Avatar...Blair Witch Project.

    Unlike most people I was glad Micah died...he was tool bag dick face (then again most people operating "the camera" in found footage type films are dicks*...they care more about the camera/angle whatever than actual people)...but I did like how they just made him jump out of bed at the end and forget the camera...that had some redeeming quality to him.

    I do like the alternate ending better that theatrical ending...another example of how CGI can ruin a film.

    This is a definite must own for horror or non-horror fans!!!

    *as I completed the rest of these I realized I might still have a bad taste from Diary of the Dead...that guy was a tool! I did not care for anyone in Blair Witch...but the camera guy in REC (or even Quarantine) were at least good.

  10. I waited for this to get interesting or scary but it ended first.

  11. OK, I rented this movie at home by myself not knowing any background of the film.
    Scary, creepy and made my spine tingle.
    I had goosebumps. It's a 10-all the way!!
    Loved it!

  12. idk...I did NOT feel as passionately about this movie as like...EVERYONE was a complete and total suckfest up until the last 15 minutes...The only part I can even recall being creepy in the first half is when Katie stands over Micah for like 3 hours...that was a total WTF O_O and when she had the creeptastic smile on her face after convincing Micah to still stay in the house after all the weird shit that happened...but it wasn't that scary to me...I slept great after seeing and, and barely even remember it now.


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