Paranormal Activity and How It Kept Me Awake at 5:30 AM

All hype aside Paranormal Activity is a great movie.

I will repeat that: All hype aside Paranormal Activity is a great movie.

If you are expecting the scariest movie ever in the whole world you will be disappointed… until you get home, turn off all the lights, turn off the TV and sit in the quiet darkness waiting for something to happen.

The horror in this film is based on the two movies that I always found scariest when I was young, The Haunting and The Exorcist, and it turns out the director Oren Peli and I were scared of the same films as kids. It isn’t gore heavy. It is blissfully CGI free. It is a very realistic take on what might happen if there were an entity in your home doing whatever it wanted to you. Your brain does so much of the work in this film and it’s easy to let your imagination go wild. There were a few times when I was convinced that I was going to catch something out of the corner of my eye, only to have my anxiety rise so high that it didn’t matter whether or not anything showed up. I got so worked up early in the film, in fact, that I leaned over to Rene and told her I felt like I needed to throw up. Nothing really scary had even happened yet.

By now the story is readily known so I will not re-post a synopsis here, nor am I going to post a link to any information about this film. OK, here’s a link to the official site. That way you can find a theater near you to go see it. It was so important to me that I went into this movie “cold” and I feel like it heightened my experience so I want you to have the same opportunity. There will be a SPOILERS section to this review, but it will be clearly marked and, if you intend to see this film, I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU NOT READ THAT PART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The unreasonable number of exclamation points should make my point clear.

This is a great example of how a “found footage” movie and a “haunted house” movie should work. The film has a slow build and when it starts it almost feels like these two “crazy kids” are just having a good old time with a camera and that something might never really happen.

But of course it does.

This is a very original film that plays off of your basest fears. See it, love it, hate it – no matter what you will be affected. I should also mention, since it’s in the title, that I actually fell asleep just fine, but I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. Frankie moved himself on the bed and it jarred me awake. As soon as I was conscience I was terrified. The house was completely silent and my brain decided that then would be the best time to think of all the possible things that could happen at that moment that might actually scare me to death. Naturally nothing happened, but I was awake for a good hour, until I heard the birds sing and the saw the first rays of sunlight, with the chills assuming I was going to be attacked by a spectral force. I was even nervous in the shower.

It was a really good movie!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HERE THAR BE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, if you are here I’m assuming that you have seen the movie. I’m now going to completely geek out on you!

OMG!! I really loved this movie! A lot have people have been making the Blair Witch Project comparison, but I’m going to completely ignore that. Yeah, it’s a “found footage” movie, but let’s really break this movie down – this is a demonic possession movie. As we were walking out of the theater I told Rene, “That was just like The Exorcist. Every time they were upstairs shit got worse.” That’s actually a bit paraphrased, but it’s completely true. Every time the night shots started you knew something was going to happen, just like every time you went up to Reagan’s bedroom you knew that she would be more messed up and scary. The path of the films are also the same, starting with flickering lights, knocks and scratches and even the ubiquitous attic scene! The only thing missing was the high flame candle – oh, but there was the Ouija board! I also REALLY liked the fact that so many of the effects were practical, in camera effects and not CGI. I know how most of them work, but the effect was still startling. When those footprints showed up WALKING into the room I was like, “Oh, no fucking way!” And when Katie got dragged out of the room by the unseen force… well I will simply say I tip my hat to Mr. Peli. My favorite effect, even though it was so simple, was the use of the shadow on the door. Simple and terrifying all at the same time.

My interpretation: I know there are multiple endings for this movie and I, like the rest of the horror world, would love to see them (apparently they will be on the DVD), but I’m going to discuss my interpretation of the movie with it’s theatrical, Steven Spielberg ending. I think the demon was a jealous bitch! When you breakdown all the things it was doing, keeping a picture of Katie, making her leave the bed, staring down Micha, the claw marks through his picture and, well quite frankly, killing him it seems like it definitely wanted some Katie all to itself. Oh, and the bite on her back, like animals do when they claim something, at least that’s how it came off for me. I also really want to see more of the deleted scenes. I know that there’s more internet footage of possessed Diane and some other things that were apparently in the other cuts of the movie and not in this one. Like all things that scare me I’m now totally obsessed with this film. I’d really like to see it again, but there are other movies that will take priority.

Enjoy! I’ll see you tomorrow!

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