Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Directed By: Oren Peli
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
A couple is being bothered by an invisible presence. With the help of a camera they hope they can find out what it wants and get rid of it.
Just like the popularity of vampires and zombies has blown up in recent years so have stories about the paranormal. Things that go bump in the night no longer just rattle chains and moan in the background. They are here solely it seems to mess with our heads. Paranormal Activity is the story of Katie and Micah. They live together in a suburban home and think the place may be haunted. Micah purchases a video camera to record the strange happenings as they try to get to the bottom of the phenomenon.
It is no secret I am a fan of the handheld/found footage style of movies. While they have oversaturated the market with them in recent years I still quite enjoy them. This movie is best watched with the lights off and the sound cranked to the max. Or it can be enjoyed with someone who is easily scared and jumpy. The movie starts off and takes the usual pattern of us meeting the characters Micah and Katie. We get to see where they live and why he is documenting everything on camera. This movie details random days and times over a month span. The film takes a predictable course of the unknown entity slowly increasing its meddling ways. The film works especially in the two polar opposite opinions of Micah and Katie. Micah is a skeptic thinking the phenomenon is something easily explained. Katie is a believer and thinks the invisible entity is malevolent in nature. No matter what you believe you get to take sides of how they rightly or wrongly deal with this problem. The film is full of eerie visuals and at times can be crap your pants scary. The entity has a flare for the dramatic and will literally have you jumping with its loud antics.
Micah and Katie played by actors Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston are passable but not the greatest in this film. It could stem from their dialogue being fairly average but they don’t deliver on some of their scenes. When they were just having normal dialogue their interaction seemed unnatural. They did do well when they were scared though and that is all you really need of them.
As the film progresses two things happen. One is that the movie gets progressively scarier. Two is that Micah and Katie start becoming unhinged. Their bickering and arguing over what the correct course of action to take only adds to the suspense of the film. Micah wants to handle this thing by himself. Katie wants to call in a paranormal expert. Having the two characters at odds was the right way to go with this film. Now obviously there are problems with this film or it would have scored higher. The frights when they do happen are very well done. They don’t happen as frequently as one would hope though. The camera work is great for a handheld film but there is no reason why any sane person would be filming at some of the more tense moments. Micah films during all of the happenings and it strains the credibility of the story a little. The story behind what the entity is and why it is there is also pretty lame. At some point a skeptic would become a believer and get the F out of Dodge when things progressively got worse but not in this film. As the film comes to its end I reflected back and really was scared at all the key moments and that is why this film worked for me. On a side note I liked how Micah let Katie sleep closest to the bedroom door even though that is where a lot of the strange things occur. A skeptic who doesn’t give up the side of his bed for any reason is aces in my book.
Director and writer Oren Peli does a great job on a miniscule budget (15,000 est.) His casting of unknown actors was the right call and he really was able to keep the viewer entertained. The story and dialogue was weak but at the end of the day people just want to be frightened. The fact he was able to do so without the typical gore should be commended. The handheld camera work and great sound really added to the overall appeal of this film. All in all a solid performance getting this movie made.
I give this movie a recommendation as it proves not all invisible things have Casper’s constitution.
T Factor – If you do not need strong dialogue in your films this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like blood and gore in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine.