Paranormal Activity: Go See This Movie!
Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Two Saturdays ago I went and saw the new horror movie Paranormal Activity with my boyfriend and a couple of friends. I can safely say this is one of the best horror films I've seen in the past decade.

A lot of people are going to compare it to The Blair Witch Project. And on one hand, yes, there are some similarities between the two films, most notably the cinéma vérité mockumentary style that the film is shot in. On the other hand, I think it's a real disservice to Paranormal Activity to compare it to Blair Witch, because I think a lot of people are going to assume that the same problems that plagued Blair Witch are present in Paranormal Activity.

First of all, the characters are approximately 110% less hateful than the shrieking, terrible people who populated The Blair Witch Project. The structure of the film demands that the characters push the envelope a little bit in terms of unreasonable behavior, so you will need to be able to live with the idea that someone would actually take the time to film a loved one having a terrified breakdown instead of immediately comforting them. However, though the male lead tries your patience a touch, ultimately by the time things get really hairy, he's fairly sympathetic.

Second of all, Blair Witch had moments where it felt like the action was just sort of meandering all over the place. In contrast, Paranormal Activity is very tightly plotted and executed, and because of that, the film has an incredible tension that continuously ratchets up over the course of 86 minutes. By the time the final few night time scenes rolled around, my stomach was literally aching from the stress of it all (I mean that in a good way).

I don't want to spoil any of the plot points, so I'm going to stay very vague here. I dislike films where the scares are strictly about people popping out of doorways unexpectedly, or loud noises/soundtrack spikes that catch you off guard. That's sort of cheating. My favorite kind of horror is the when a film delivers an idea or an image that truly sticks with you. That's what Paranormal Activity does so well - there are parts of this movie where just seeing certain images is going to make your skin crawl. It's an almost entirely blood-free movie, yet still manages to be terrifying, which is a nice break from the standard gore fests such as the Saw franchise that seem to be the only other horror films available right now.

Sufficed to say, if you like horror at all, go see this movie right away. It MUST be seen in a theater for several reasons. First, it's the kind of thrill that's tons of fun when surrounded by hundreds of people feeling the same horror you are (in fact, this will be the only time you'll ever see me suggest you actively seek out the busier times on Friday and Saturday nights, since in this case, crowded = good). Second, the sound design is really top-notch, and you'll want the full effect of the theater, since this is just not going to look or sound as great on your home setup.

I can't recommend this film strongly enough. It's a must-see for any true horror fan (we discuss this film and other scary things on my podcast this week, for those of you who want to hear all this in audio form.

one word of caution: if you get motion sickness easily, this may not be the movie for you, because there's a lot of shaky handheld camera work in this film.
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