Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paranormal Activity (2007)

I'm probably the last person to see this movie, or at least the last horror movie advocate, anyway. I purposely decided against seeing this one in the theater as I knew it would elicit text-messaging, Twittering, giggling, laser pointers, and the inevitable audience commentary that comes with a theater-going experience. It also happens to be the first movie I've purchased in years; at a petty $15, I couldn't resist. And I managed to watch it at two in the morning, the house silent and all the lights doused!

Now that I've seen it I read a bunch of reviews. Only one of the eleven reviews I read were on-the-fence; all others were loved-it or hated-it reviews. As for me, I'm on the hated-it side of the fence, but I didn't hate it. I am simply a victim of the hype, and it pains me to know that there are thousands of people out there who were finally affected by a film. It hurts to know that I missed out on a truly scary experience. I tried, tried, tried to shun reviews. I covered my ears when people would talk about it. But it's hard to do when it is heralded the scariest movie ever made everywhere I turn.

* Spoilers Ahead *

The movie was over-hyped which led to high expectations (despite my attempt at suppression) which led to disappointment. Nothing scary ever happened. A door closed. A character stood in place for a couple of hours. A bed sheet moved. Some footprints appeared. And so on. Nothing scary ever happened. Obviously the scares were in the tension produced by the waiting for something to happened. But Paramount decided to wreck that by adding a rumbling at the beginning of each night. I think ZERO score would have increased the creepiness.

Paramount also decided to add a CGI ending to what I'm guessing is the theatrical version since I selected theatrical version on my DVD. This poor CGI ending felt completely out of place. All along we are never actually seeing anything, everything is real. Then, we get to see the same face that Megan Fox makes in Jennifer's Body. Come on. I tried the alternate ending and it wasn't much better. Can someone tell me what happens in the original ending and why they did keep it? I've heard inklings that Katie comes back into the room alone and rocks herself in place for like two days, but this so-called original ending isn't consistent across the sites I've checked out.

What the movie does have is stellar acting. You would think these two, whose real names are Micah and Katie (cool), were seasoned professionals. The candid footage of their everyday life sells them as two very real people and effectively adds to the film's reality. When they are startled, they are seriously startled. Most of the time an actor or actress playing up fear comes off cheesy, and I have to try and see past it in order to stay focused on the movie. Not so in Paranormal. Absolutely stellar acting.

So, what to do now besides post this and let the comments collect. I don't know. Will it be any better the second time around? I hope so. Sometimes it takes that first viewing to properly align expectations. Then again, this is the type of movie that evokes fear by keeping the audience in suspense over what happens next. Oh, well. I wish I hadn't heard anything at all about the movie. I will be watching it with the wife and several groups of friends here and there, so at least I'll get to keep an eye on their reactions since I know what is (or rather isn't) coming.

Now I'm off to make my 2009 Top 10 list...


  1. Chris - Head over to B-Movie Becky's explanation at the Horror Effect. She explains the "alternate ending" and now we've disovered there is a slashed throat ending too. Jeez.

    It doesn't live up to the hype but it did give me that Blair Witch feeling again and that experience was awesome to relive again in the theater at a midnight show.

  2. Thanks for the link--I love her blog!

  3. Hype is the Horror movie's greatest asset and adversary, and Im sorry to hear it spoiled this one Chris! I loved it, I am a big fan of the format and I really liked the subtleness and lack of action throughout