Paranormal Activity (2009)
Watched October 24, 2009
I've been hearing about Paranormal Activity for a while now. I think the first time I read about it was the 2007 review on Horror Movie A Day (great site, by the way). The review was very positive, and I hadn't heard anything about the movie, so I was very intrigued. Over the next couple years, I kept reading sporadic reviews about the film, and with each one, I became more and more excited. But there was still nothing about a release date for the film. Until a couple months ago. Yes, to my surprise, the film I'd been hearing about for years was getting a theatrical release! When the film finally found its way into a theater near me, I jumped at the chance. So, last weekend, after a couple years, I finally saw the movie that people were calling one of the scariest movies of all time.
Did it live up to the hype? Well, no. But was it a damn good movie? Yep.
I can really honestly say there have only been two movies that ever terrified me. And those were The Ring and The Shining. But the reason that they were so terrifying, was because they were like the first two horror movies I ever saw. Since then, I've seen both those films again. The Ring hasn't held up that well for me, and while The Shining is still a fucking amazing film (one of my favs), it doesn't scare me anymore. I don't know if I should add Paranormal Activity to that list or not. I wouldn't say it terrified me, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose any sleep the night after I saw it.
For those of you who do not know the plot for whatever reason, here's a quick rundown. A guy buys a video camera because his girlfriend is experiencing some odd phenomena in her life, and she thinks it's paranormal phenomena. So, his idea is to set up a video camera in the bedroom, and try to capture some paranormal activity over the night. Well, the two of them end up getting a hell of a lot more than they bargained for.
I'm willing to bet a lot of the mainstream audience will find the movie boring. The first hour or so of the movie is basically just some loud noises and footsteps here and there. Not terribly exciting for the people whose favorite movie is "Transformers". But, honestly, there's something wrong with them anyways for liking a Michael Bay movie, so let's just forget they exist for a minute.
Honestly, yes, the first hour of the movie is a little slow-moving, but I never found it truly boring. I didn't find it scary, but I was pretty intrigued in what was happening. And the whole slow build-up thing was actually a pretty good idea. Because if the entire movie was like the last 20 minutes or so (when the actual scary stuff starts to happen), I'm willing to bet the film wouldn't have had the effect that it did. The whole slow-burn strategy worked very well in the film, as it allowed for character development, plus gradually making the movie scarier and scarier as it goes on makes the scares at the end that much more effective.
But, even without the slow-burn exercise, the last twenty minutes still would have been jaw-dropping. The last third of the movie is ridiculously well-done, and the last two nights the characters film are scary as shit. I'm not going to give away what happens, but trust me, it's damn awesome.
But, I think instead of like 70 minutes of build-up for 20 minutes of awesomeness, they should have made it like 60-30. Instead of the last two nights being truly terrifying, they should have made the last three nights that way. I just feel as if there was too much build-up. But perhaps I'm just nitpicking. I'm probably just nitpicking.
It truly amazes me that a film shot in a week for $10,000 can be ten times as effective as all of the horror blockbusters made for millions and millions of dollars. It just goes to show that to truly find good horror movies, you have to look to the independent scene. Horror isn't dead, you just have to wade through a lot of mainstream shit to get to the worthwhile stuff. Paranormal Activity is the aforementioned worthwhile stuff. I don't have anything more to say, except that Paranormal Activity is a really good, if overhyped, horror flick that you should all support and see in theaters. I don't think the experience will be the same on DVD. So go now.
And as a final note, I want to thank Paramount for making the right decision and actually releasing the original film and not making a piece of shit remake. Horror fans will respect you for it, and the box office numbers are proof you made the correct decision. "Paranormal Activity" gets:
4 out of 5 chainsaws (VERY GOOD, SEE IT)