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Paranormal Activity (2009)

October 13, 2009

6/10 Idiot Boyfriends

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this movie had me tossing in bed for a good extra hour or so last night, but still, it could have been better.

Paranormal Activity is about a happy couple that move in together after going steady for a good three years. One day the boyfriend buys a pimped out hi-def video camera and sets it up in their bedroom because his girlfriend recently dropped a bomb on him by revealing that she has been haunted by a demon her entire life. Somehow, he doesn’t dump her on the spot and they decide to stick out this whole haunting thing no matter how painfully obvious it gets they are soundly fucked.

Being that it’s a horror mockumentary, the comparison to The Blair Witch Project is there right from the get-go (man, I can’t believe I still haven’t seen that movie). Nonetheless, it’s a pretty fresh take on the haunted house genre as it comes off like a mix between Blair Witch (only not in the woods), Poltergeist (only without that creepy-ass clown doll), and Open Water (only without the sharks).

Now, I’m pathetic when it comes to horror movies; I love ’em, but I’m pathetic. This is me during every horror movie I’ve ever seen. I have this thing where I’m more freaked out by the noise than the visuals, so as soon as shit’s about to go down, I plug up and curl next to my good buddy Fred while he shakes his head in shame. The point is, I was doing that a lot in this movie.

The scares here work on a couple levels. The first being that the whole mockumentary vibe does a good job of helping you forget that this is just a movie. It took a lot of self-convincing last night that just because I went and saw this movie it didn’t mean that a demon was going to be coming for me in the middle of the night. Again, pathetic. But if this movie has one thing going for it it’s that the scares aren’t cheap. It drives me crazy horror movies try to get you to jump out of your seat just by blaring loud noises over the speakers whenever something jumps out at you; anyone can do that. Paranormal Activity on the other hand has no soundtrack or surprise audio and instead makes you poop your pants through a slow boil as more and more bizarro shit starts happening that can only be explained as…DEMONRY!

The other thing it does well is that it never shows you what the said demon looks like. If there’s a lesson more horror movies should learn, it’s that if you’re going to show everyone what your monster/villain/whatever is going to look like, either don’t do it at all or do it at the very, very end. The things people can make up in their mind are a million times more frightening than anything you could ever show them. Since you never see what’s actually causing all this tomfoolery, the movie thus does a great job of toying with its audience just as it toys with its main characters.

And I don’t know how they pulled off some of the special effects here without making it look like it was filmed in front of a green screen, because they are damn impressive.

But my big problem with this movie is that the characters, at least the boyfriend, are so. freaking. stupid. I’m of the mindset that if I ever came across incontrovertible proof that a demon was in my house because it had a jones for my girlfriend, I would pack my shit and move on with my life. But for some reason, the boyfriend here instead thinks having a demon tearing shit up at night is the coolest thing he’s ever seen. Why? Who the hell knows.

When you’re dealing with a demon, the last thing you do is egg on the demon. Yes, you should call that demonologist. No, you shouldn’t buy that ouija board. No, you shouldn’t stay in the house just so you can catch it all on film. What the hell is your problem, man?


It’s really too bad that this guy is such a dumbass and makes this movie fall into a stereotypical complaint that everyone has with horror movies, because it does a lot of things right otherwise. But then again, Paranormal Activity still messed me up. Wasn’t quite as horrifying as The Orphanage and it could have used some more character development, but boy does this sucker get under your skin. Had the potential to be truly awesome.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Branden permalink
    October 13, 2009 2:52 pm

    I heard the buzz about this movie. I was on the fence about seeing this movie. I can handle horror movie. I scare easily. I would literally poop myself if I see this film.

    I would keep my safe distance away.

  2. October 13, 2009 4:59 pm

    I’m planning on seeing this today… Hope it doesn’t keep me up at night.

    • October 13, 2009 6:18 pm

      Good luck, man. I’m tellin ya’, plug up those ears, makes a world of difference.

  3. October 16, 2009 7:43 pm

    The movie trailers for this film do a great job of making you believe that this is a real documentary. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure I’d be like you, believing a demon would enter my bedroom any minute. And don’t worry about Blair Witch. It was horribly stupid.

    • October 16, 2009 7:50 pm

      Haha, thanks for the heads up, but one of these days I’ll give it a shot, just to see what the fuss is about ten years after the fuss has died down.

  4. October 17, 2009 11:29 am

    I don’t know if I completely agree with you here. I like how they focused on the psychological effects that the events had on the characters. I thought watching them was just as scary as the demon. It gave the movie a human connection that most horror movies lack as they just throw undead Japanese girls and severed body parts at the camera.

    If you want to hear my thoughts, my full review is here:

    This is my first visit/comment and I like what I see. Look forward to becoming a frequent commenter.

  5. Peter permalink
    October 24, 2009 9:50 am

    Ok, saw the movie last night, curious about the hype. Plus, I do enjoy a good “things go bump in the night” flick. I agree, the bf is annoying (though he does have a cool name: Micah), even foolishly arrogant. I thought the movie was well done, though more creepy than outright scary. At times it felt a bit contrived and found myself wondering at points where their hand-held camera was filming from: Was Katie (supposedly terrified) following Micah around with the camera at certain points? If she HATES the camera as she says, why would she be doing this? For the lights on the camera? Well, why not just turn the lights on in the room, etc? Also, Micah claims to do all this research and is enthusiastic about using a Ouija board, but not once attempts to use sage or holy water around the house? Does he give a crap about Katie? lol But despite these misgivings I was glad I saw the flim. It sated my curiosity

  6. October 31, 2009 5:51 pm

    Saw this one today and loved it.

    You’re right that it has a few logical holes with how a normal boyfriend might behave, but then again I have met guys who are dumb enough to act like that in the face of something they think they are better than.

    Also, what horror movie doesn’t have a moment or two of flawed logic?

    Anyway, loved the flick, loved your review. Keep up the good work, and hopefully you’ve been able to get some sleep!

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