Paranormal Activity Review
Before the review proper begins, please answer this simple question: are you scared of the dark? If the answer is yes, then this is a movie that is going to scare the everliving shit out of you. If the answer is no, then you werenít going to watch this anyway, so letís not waste time trying to win you over.
Twentysomething couple Micah and Katie believe they have a ghost in their house so Micah does what any rash young man would do: he buys a camera to document the goings on while they try to get rid of it.
If that sounds like a weak synopsis, thatís because there isnít a story in any kind of the traditional sense. There is no script, there is no three act structure and there is no pacing. Things go bump in the night and thatís what youíre waiting for.
The movie is split into several chunks. In the day, the characters get their separate points across and all the exposition surrounding the ghost comes through. Micah is sceptical, a brash jock who actually wants the ghost to cause trouble so he can see it for himself. Katie, though, is the long-suffering woman and when the shit starts hitting the fan, you can see the fear in her eyes Ė itís the same fear thatís rattling through yours.
At night, however, a slow dread falls over the film. As the spirit haunting them gets slowly more powerful and more vicious, the intensity of its actions picks up in speed and pace until you, like the characters, donít want night to fall.
Itís a rare horror film these days that manages to actually horrify and the way it does it is delightfully simple: you care about the characters. They are so well rounded, so well performed, so believable and so raw and human that youíre almost watching yourself on screen. Thatís you up there, shivering in fright Ė you donít want terrible things to happen to you, do you? No, of course not, so the incredible arc the characters are forced to go through over the course of the days of film is one very similar to the audienceís own. Micah dismisses the psychic out of hand in his first visit. By the hour mark, both you and he are practically begging the psychic to walk back in and sort it all out.
On a filmmaking level, itís utterly incredible. The film appears to have cost the price of the camera to make and the level of imagination on offer is simply astounding. Doors slam on their own, footprints appear on the floor, Katie is dragged screaming down the hallway and itís so convincing that the part of your brain wondering just how this was made shuts up completely and hides in a corner sobbing in fright.
And then the film plays its trump card: just when you think you understand the rules of the game and the malevolent force watching over them, everything changes. In the interest of terror, this shall not be spoiled here, but it goes without saying that itís a brown trousers moment.
The shortest and sweetest way to sum this film up Ė although it wonít do it any justice at all Ė is to call it ĎBlaire Witch in a Houseí. That should be enough to tell you whether or not this film is going to get under your skin and live there. It will if you let it, and in doing so youíll experience something truly extraordinary: genuine fear. If not, continue sleeping soundly with the lights off, just donít- OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLISTHA-