Movie Review: Paranormal Activity (2009)

Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in Paranormal Activity
Photo: Paramount Pictures

As far as supernatural thrillers go, Paranormal Activity is the best I have ever seen. The fact it was made on an $11,000 budget with amateur actors goes to show just how far a little imagination can go. It doesn’t require an endless amount of effects, sex and swearing to engage an audience as writer/director Oren Peli and his two principals — Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat — deliver a film you won’t soon forget.

When it comes to frightening movies I’m not much of a jumper, instead I’m a clenched fist, chills up the arm and down the spine kind of guy, and Paranormal Activity has that category covered to the hilt. However, if you’re a jumper you won’t be glued to your seat for very long and if you fall into both categories then Lord help you because there is no helping you once this movie gets going.

To avoid spoiling anything about this film, I will simply say it follows a young couple who suspect some supernatural activity is going on in their house and as a result Micah (Sloat) purchases a camera in an attempt to catch some of it on video, or at the very least get the audio on tape. What begins as a door gently shifting in the middle of the night turns into much, much more as the story of Katie and Micah is told in nightly segments and it just becomes relentless. The set-up leaves little room for debate and unless your imagination is a barren landscape you would be hard pressed not to get caught up in Paranormal Activity‘s 99 minutes of madness.

This is a film you must see in theaters to get the full effect and just pray you have a lively crowd. Men in the audience will be laughing loud and cracking jokes in an effort to hide their anxiety and the ladies will barely be able to control themselves as my midnight audience was screaming even before the scares.

If a door was about to slam you could hardly hear it over members of the audience screaming at the very fact it was moving. It was some of the most fun I’ve had at the theater in a long time as you could feel you were watching something and taking part in an event at the exact same time as the hundreds of people in the theater with you. All of you feeling the exact same apprehension as the midnight hour passed and another night of unexpected activity was about to take place.

It seems ironic how this film is being compared to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project and I just so happened to see it in the exact same theater I saw that film 10 years ago. However, this film trumps Blair Witch to the fullest extent. Paranormal Activity is freaky, it’s frightening and it’s menacing. It’s a film I wouldn’t be able to show my sister because she wouldn’t be able to sleep soundly for a year, and that is not an exaggeration.

If you are any kind of fan of supernatural thrillers and seek out films that will put you on edge, look no further. Paranormal Activity is the real deal and I would hate for you to miss it.

SPECIAL NOTE: Paranormal Activity is opening in 13 cities on September 25, 2009, but it’s expansion depends on audience demand. A website has been set up to allow moviegoers to “demand” it come to their city, which you can visit right here. I can’t stress enough how much I think you should do your best to get it to your city, this is a film meant to be experienced with an audience and not merely seen in your living room on DVD.

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