Paranormal Activity offers a surprisingly taut story

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      Written and directed by Oren Peli. Starring Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat. Rated 14A. Now playing

      Much like The Blair Witch Project 10 years ago, Paranormal Activity is the bargain-basement horror flick of the moment. Thanks to steady word of mouth, writer-director Oren Peli’s debut feature has been awarded a major-studio release after years of bouncing around the festival circuit.

      Watch the trailer for Paranormal Activity.

      Using his own relatively modest house as an impromptu set, Peli made the movie for around $15,000. And what do we get? A surprisingly taut story about a young couple named Katie and Micah (Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat) who decide to document the supernatural occurrences disrupting their home.

      Katie, who’s been intermittently stalked by some sort of malevolent force since the age of eight, is genuinely frightened by the increasingly strange events taking over her life. Micah is a cocky control freak who’s actually a little jazzed when he discovers that his girlfriend is a walking magnet for paranormal activity. In typically male fashion, he decides to film the whole thing with his new video camera.

      Peli takes a refreshingly organic approach to ratcheting up the tension. With no elaborate special effects, the resulting thrills are strictly of the mind-game variety. Our increasingly frazzled couple get used to checking out the latest demonic act while padding around the house in sweatpants or boxer shorts. Nobody can accuse the two unknown leads of being great actors, but in the age of reality television, there’s something utterly convincing about the sleep-deprived Katie bickering with Micah while brushing her teeth.

      And yet, despite Peli’s ability to conjure up a seductive atmosphere of suspense, the ending seems both rushed and anticlimactic. After the film builds up such an exquisite head of steam, horror purists may be disappointed by the way Paranormal Activity insists on fizzling out so abruptly.

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      Oct 23, 2009 at 12:04am

      I'd been waiting for five weeks to see this film, and had worried that it was all sensationalistic hype. Caught it yesterday, and was proven correct: it was boring, not one bit scary, and so not worth the $12.50 I paid to see it at Scotiabank.

      For those who haven't seen it, and still wish to: DO see it in a theatre, but wait until it's at a less-expensive theatre, offering matineés, or until it's at a second-run theatre such as The Hollywood.


      Oct 26, 2009 at 7:09pm

      paranormal activity was the best moie ever i loved it. when i was watching the mpvie with my friends te got scared and left me. that kinda made me feel better because i wouldnt have cry babies hidding behind my back. other then that it was the best.

      Mike H.

      Oct 29, 2009 at 4:52pm

      Great movie and amazing what you can produce with almost zero budget as long as you have an engaging story. The problem some will have is that the hype about this movie tends to make the viewer expect so much that they are ultimately a little disappointed. Don't talk to anyone about this flick just go and see it for yourself.


      Oct 31, 2009 at 9:37pm

      I agree with both Kate and Mike. More so with Kate. I saw the movie on opening night, but walked away relieved that I hadn't driven to Seattle to catch it at a midnight screening a couple of weeks beforehand. Not worth the fuss or bother, though I can see how those with thinner skin could or would be scared.

      I saw it with a friend who tends to be more sensitive to frightening content. She too had been hoping for a good scare, but as we left the theatre she remarked that it wasn't very scary. She didn't have any problem sleeping or nightmares.

      Mike is right: the hype makes the viewer expect TOO much. I expect to be scared though, Mike. I wasn't. And therefore, the movie did not live up to it's advertised hype: "scariest movie ever" and "terrifying" .. it wasn't.


      Nov 3, 2009 at 8:55am

      It's Micah SLOAT. But coming from the Strait I'm not surprised.

      Travis Lupick

      Nov 3, 2009 at 9:10am

      Thanks MarkV, I've made the correction in the article above. By the way it's "Straight".


      Sep 22, 2010 at 5:57pm

      I really liked this movie. I can understand why gross-out horror fans didn't think it was scary, but for those of us who like a little bit of horror or maybe none at all, it was pretty darn creepy and freaky for us. I watched this movie at a sleepover at 3am in the morning in the basement. You can imagine how scary it was for us 4 teenage girls :p