It’s interesting, the hype that surrounded Paranormal Activity – it was like an angry cloud of bees after the idiot with the bat. Once word was out, it was everywhere. Now, does it live up to said hype? Eh, not really. But that doesn’t make it any less of a movie. What makes it less of a movie is the lack of satisfaction in the ending, but I’ll get to that later.
Okay, quick synopsis: We, as an audience, are first shown information from the filmmakers which thank the local police officers for the footage. Really? Really? Who is supposed to believe this? This movie would’ve been so much better without that disclaimer – it probably would’ve even been creepier, because there would be less to expect once the camera turns on. But nope, my hokey meter just peaked right there. Alright, getting on with it: We now meet Katie and Micah, a couple who’s been experiencing some paranormal activity for a while, so Micah decided to get a high-quality camera to capture all of this. And of course, chaos ensues, which turns out to be a nasty lil’ demon that’s been haunting Katie for most of her life. So basically folks, this film turns into a first-person guide for what you should NOT do in the event of a possible possession. (Number one rule people: FOR THE LOVE OF GAWD, DO NOT PROVOKE THE SPIRITS!) And yes, this thing had Exorcist vibes spewed all over it. Ha-ha, pun.
Personally, I am a fan of the shaky-cam style: it’s like you’re on a roller coaster and can’t avoid what you’re going to be thrown into next – it’s exciting! And to do that with the paranormal, that’s some pretty impressive editing, there. I applaud your efforts. However, it’s curious that the special effects were totally seamless, but some cuts that should’ve been subtle were so blatantly obvious that they were actually very distracting. Please – it’s called priority, people. Alas, the tribulations of working with a hand-held camera.
And then there’s the fact that I found these people a little hard to believe. I mean, Micah’s (oh, and these actors share their names with their characters, by the way) beefiness was way too macho to believe – I mean the fact that all of these paranormal happenings went on before documenting and he never so much as looked into a new place was too macho to believe, along with his constant “I can handle this.” Seriously? I think any man would doubt his own demon-fighting skills once he sees his girlfriend get dragged along the floor. And of course, Katie threatens and complains, but never really does anything productive – a classic Mary Sue.
And then there’s the ending…. What to say about that…. It just sort of happens and then leads to more hokiness. It was just sort of disappointing. I wanted some more stuff to go down, man! It’s like that just can’t be it! But it was. Maybe the director’s cut will be more satisfying.
So in short, Paranormal Activity, as hokey and unbelievable as it is, is still entertaining and has some creepy vibes. But I’d wait for the DVD if I were you.
Final Grade: C+