Directed by: Oren Peli
Starring: Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat (As themselves)
Paranormal activity is possibly one of the most popular and talked about series’ for a while or at least when it comes to ‘mainstream’ series’. Generally, mainstream movies get a bum deal as far as ratings go especially in the horrorverse and in my personal opinion, Paranormal Activity fared no better.
Paranormal activity is a ‘Found footage’ film, meaning it uses hand held camera work to make it appear the tapes were discovered and used to make a true story movie of real footage. This isn’t a new thing. We’ve been using this technique to tell raw and realistic stories for a good few decades and the sub-genre features some of the most iconic movies of modern time such as Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project to name the most popular. PA tells of a couple, Katie and Micah haunted by some sort of entity, Micah sets up cameras around the home to capture the events. Slowly we discover that this isn’t new to Katie and she has been subject to these hauntings since childhood.
Not dissimilar to most haunting stories, PA uses classic haunting tricks. Plates smashing, doors slamming, duvets being removed while the couple sleep, you know the deal. Sadly, it comes across as old hat for those of us who have seen a lot of horror movies. However, the feel is menacing and we know this isn’t Casper we’re dealing with but a malevolent and angry being targeting the couple for an unknown reason. It is understandable how many viewers would have been convinced that the footage was genuine and the simple effects are realistic and not over played. If anything, it can get a bit dull. Lots of sleeping! The story plods along at an easy pace most of the time and when there are revelations they’re not over the top or completely unbelievable but like I mentioned, you can get bored watching two normal people doing normal things such as sleeping and housework and it’s tempting to fast forward sometimes to get to some good bits. There’s the usual face in mirrors trick or doors creeping slowly open when no one is home or awake but frankly, I need more to get my heart racing.
Overall Paranormal Activity isn’t a bad film, just not a great one either. There are far better and more terrifying found footage and haunting films about and if someone asked me to choose one for them, this wouldn’t be my first suggestion, but if it was someone new to horror I’d probably be more inclined to say “try this”. It’s not too scary, but scary enough and will leave some new horror explorers wanting more and hopefully look for more like it and find themselves stumbling on some great horror that will get them hooked for life!