I think that the golden-age of horror films was back in the ’80’s. The slasher films of yesteryear were fantastic on every level, making us laugh, scream, and cry for our mothers. Well, it seems that over the years, we as society have become desensitized, and it’s become harder to scare us. Not only is it harder to scare people, but Hollywood has run out of ideas, and we are stuck with nothing but pointless sequels and watered-down remakes. Now this is where Paranormal Activity comes to the rescue, and shows us that you don’t even need to see the “monster” to feel fear. The film is being hailed as one of the scariest films in a long time, but does it really live up to your ghostly standards?
Depending on how much you believe in ghosts and demons, this film can be either really scary or really boring. Also, this is a film made to look like it was done with a camcorder (Blair Witch, Cloverfield, etc.), so some people may be turned off right from the get-go by this style of film making. Basically, the film starts out with a boyfriend, Micah, that bought a new camera and wants to see if the house he lives in is being haunted. Micah’s girlfriend, Katie, is no stranger to these odd encounters, but both are excited to just try and catch some evidence on camera. The best scenes in the film are taken while the couple is sleeping, because it seems that the “ghostly” visitor only shows up at night. The true terror of the films strikes the audience by making them question, “Do these things happen while I’m asleep?” The thought of demons and ghosts invading your personal life is scary, because there truly is nowhere to hide, and we see that with Micah and Katie feeling like a prisoner in their own home.
While it is nice to see a fresh new horror film in theaters, I think the pacing on the film is a bit too slow for many people. The first half of the film is more like an episode of True Life: I Live in a Haunted House, then the latest scary theater outing. The start of the nightly scares are nothing more than a door moving or a shadow grazing the door, and then it goes back to daytime, where we see the couple just watching and questioning their footage. While I wish it would of picked up much earlier on, I must admit, that a little over halfway through the film, all Hell breaks loose and we get some good scares. The final twenty minutes of the film has to be some of the wildest stuff, and your girlfriend will be clinging to your arm like a fat man clings to a Big Mac. One little gripe I had was with the acting…which is tough to do with a movie like this, that requires the actors to look like they are not acting. While Micah was pretty funny and gave a solid performance, Katie sometimes was so melodramatic, that people in the theater were actually laughing at some of the lines she delivered.
If you are one of those people that are into shows like Ghost Hunters and anything about the supernatural, then Paranormal Activity is the film for you. While the film wasn’t all about huge scares, it was more haunting than anything, and you will be thinking about it for a week after viewing. The guerrilla film work, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, really works for the film, making things a bit more believable; they even went as far as showing no opening or closing credits. It’s not really a film worth seeing in theaters, but I recommend that everybody see it at least once, since it’s more about the experience than some that will scare you again and again. While it is far from perfect, it’s a hell of a lot better than another crappy Saw sequel.