Movie #33: Paranormal Activity

Believing the hype about its scariness, I decided to watch Paranormal Activity in the daytime. I’d always figured that horror movies are barely scary without the creepy music, but I guess this one was designed to be frightening without the soundtrack. The entire film is staged as video camera footage taken by day-trader Micah Sloat to help him and his girlfriend Katie Featherston find out what is “haunting” their home. Just like The Blair Witch Project did before, this movie starts with the suggestion that this footage came from their families, so things obviously won’t end well. Though half the movie is comprised of footage of the couple sleeping in bed, my expectations were cleverly manipulated by the simple device of the fast-forward. As the on-screen time counter zips through the idle hours, it slows to real-time when something is about to happen. So, my mind is tense with anticipation for what might be banging around or which light might flicker or door might slam. It’s amazing how much the imagination can do to dress up such simple actions to make them scary. Near the end I was wondering to myself what the big deal was, really. So far neither one of them had actually been hurt. It was just the fear and frustration that was driving them nuts. I have to give credit for the actors and the filmmakers because the realism of the movie was one of its biggest assets. Even though I knew they were actors, I didn’t feel like the movie was fiction, and I kept wondering how I’d respond in their situation. The separation between the movie world and the real world was almost non-existent. Unlike The Blair Witch Project, whose footage was often poorly shot (probably intentionally) and so shaky I felt like I was getting motion sickness, the footage in this movie is clear and easy to understand. I’m a bit surprised that there’s going to be a sequel released this fall. I kind of like the abrupt ending of this movie. I know BWP2 didn’t do too well. We’ll see if Paranormal Activity 2 will fare any better (3.5 out of 5)

33 down, 17 to go!

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