Monday, October 1, 2012

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity (USA, 2007) - Color, Director(s): Oren Peli
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 86 min.

Z-rating: 3 out of 5 stars for an interesting start to a horror franchise that's still going strong

Cheese Factor: 1 out of 5 stars for goofy scenes added in to make footage seem more "real"

     This is the kind of movie that will either scare the crap out of you, or put you to sleep from boredom depending on how much you can get into the movie. What I mean is that the Paranormal Activity franchise as a whole is most effective on audiences who are patient enough to allow a story to unfold and are willing to temporarily suspend their disbelief. 

Most "found footage" films like this usually have to start off with a bunch of random scenes to give the viewers a feeling of watching someone else's home movies. The problem with that is most people aren't patient enough to wait 20 minutes before we get into the real story. So the random scenes in the beginning tend to feel drawn out, boring, and totally stupid. If you're patient enough to sit through them, however, it help builds most of the foundation for the characters that we're going to see haunted by a malevolent spirit.

The story of this one is that a couple (Katie and Micah) recently moved into a new home but are being haunted by something "evil". They set up cameras around the house in an attempt to capture footage of whatever it is that's haunting them. At one point, they even attempt contact with the spirit before calling in an expert who determines that it's a demon and not a ghost. Katie eventually reveals that she's been haunted by this thing since she was a child and the couple do their best to deal with the fact that it's really happening. Most of the scary scenes come via night vision when the couple is sleeping but strange things happen like doors slamming and sheets lifting as if something were under them.

This indie film, written and directed by Oren Peli, started off by making a big splash at film festivals and gathered a lot of buzz online. The movie was eventually picked up by Paramount Pictures and received a theatrical release in 2009. Everyone was talking about this movie when it came out, with rumors circulating that the movie was "real". Rumors and word of mouth helped spread the popularity of this film to the point where it is considered the most profitable film ever made, based on return on investment. Paramount/DreamWorks allegedly acquired the film for $350,000 and earned an estimated $194 million worldwide. 

Nudity: None, unforunately. If there were some titties during the home movie scenes in the beginning, maybe people wouldn't have been so bored!!!

Gore: Also, none. There's a little blood from Katie gripping a crucifix so hard that her hands are bleeding, but there's nothing visceral like limbs being chopped off or guts spilling out.

Awesome: Not bad. Not bad at all. I think the effectiveness of this movie depends a lot on your own mindset and the situation under which you watch it. If you watch it with a big enough group of people, you'll probably end up laughing at the movie or making jokes to break the tension of the scenes. If you're watching this alone in the dark, and you fully immerse yourself in the movie, you'll probably get freaked out by little sounds you hear that night when you're trying to get some sleep....