Director: Oren Peli
Watching Paranormal Activity during a thunderstorm was probably not one of my better ideas it has to be said. Cooper Penner says, “for the first few nights, the camera records almost nothing: a door moves a little, the blankets flutter for a split second. In this way the audience is lulled into a false sense of security, so that when chandeliers start swinging and Ouija boards start igniting, the impact is genuinely shocking” (912, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) which I don’t think is strictly true. In fact I think the opposite, which is not to say the film isn’t scary because I certainly found it so.
The stylistic choices of Peli condition the viewer to expect some sort of otherworldly action. Every time we switch to the night-vision mode and the time stamp appears in the bottom right of the screen my whole body tensed up in anticipation o whatever the unknown entity was going to do on that occasion. Yes the occurrences become more extreme throughout the course of the film culminating in the terrifying climax, and in some ways they become more disturbing once they begin during the day.
I do agree wholeheartedly with Penner when e says, “the night-vision scope through which most of the movie is seen adds an interesting depth to the movie. With no color to distract from everything that is going on, our eyes are drawn immediately to even the slightest movement” (912) as you do notice every single movement, however small it may be, when watching the scenes in the bedroom.
Katie is played exceptionally well and I find her strong, despite at times becoming hysterical, mainly for putting up with her idiot boyfriend. She has an understanding of the entity due to the prolonged period of time being haunted by it unlike Micah. Micah is an idiot and I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with him as the movie went on. He starts out as a skeptic and doesn’t really believe Katie or put much stock in her story. However once he has proof, through his incessant filming, rather than being supportive of her plight he becomes a bit of a jerk. He openly taunts the entity (which everyone knows is the worst possible thing to do!) and goes against Katie’s express wishes, especially with the Ouija board, all of which creates tension and discord between them and allows the entities actions to escalate.
Props to Peli for creating such a tension filled horror movie, especially as he shot it in his own house … how does he continue to sleep there?! It seems you can’t mention Paranormal Activity without the size of the budget coming up. Yes it was a small budget but I think the horror genre, and especially this new breed of horror movies, lends itself well to low-budget stories and by setting it in the microcosm of the house … the only exterior shots we have are from within the garden … Peli reduced the need for a large budget. And the very nature of the ‘monster’ in this lends itself to this almost guerilla style of filmmaking.
“Paranormal Activity is at the cusp of a new breed of horror movies: those that don’t have whatever it is that is supposed to be scary jumping out from behind you or hiding underneath your bed.” (912) I had previously avoided Paranormal Activity, as I do with most films that have a surplus amount of hype surrounding them, and didn’t think it could be as scary as everyone was making it out to be but it turns out they were right. It’s one of the scariest films I have watched recently because of the lack of a corporeal monster. How can you fight something you can’t even see? Having said that I don’t think I will watch any of the sequels because horror sequels are rarely as good as the original let alone exceed it.