While it's true that sometimes less is more, it's also true that sometimes less is just less. The midnight cult flick Paranormal Activity is a horror movie with the lowest budget, smallest cast, and least special effects since The Blair Witch Project. Sadly, it also lacks some necessary elements for a truly scary movie.

Micah (Micah Sloat) just bought a new and powerful video camera. His live-in girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston) believes that the supernatural events that happened to her twice in her childhood are starting again, so Micah decides to videotape everything they do and get proof of this, er, paranormal activity.

Things start benignly enough -- bumps in the night, objects moves -- but soon the occurrences become more menacing. A psychic (Marc Fredrichs) says it's a demon and not a ghost, since it followed her before moving won't solve anything, and he's powerless to do anything to help the couple. And while the evidence on video keeps mounting, so do the sleepless nights and growing fears...

Given how so many horror movies these days rely solely on gore and torture, I have to give Paranormal Activity kudos for goign with a bare-bones approach, using implied fears instead of special effects to create its atmosphere.

Alas, this isn't enough. We barely get to know the characters, so there's not a lot invested in them. I laughed that the psychic is not only taken completely at his word, but acts as pure exposition by explaining what's happening without doing anything about it. Towards the end, when things are really bad for Micah and Katie, they simply stay (because the psychic said leaving wouldn't help) and don't try anyone or anything else: a prist, refuge in a church, every psychic in the phone book. And while showing the whole movie through a video camera gives a sense of realism, it ultimately becomes as much of a gimmick as gore and torture in other movies. (For example, when the timecode on the sleeping couple speeds along then slows down, you know you'll see or hear something right after it goes to normal time.)

Paranormal Activity would be a great student film and it's a good try and making a movie on the smallest of budgets, but it never gets beyond quick jolts.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

Mandie Reed said...

can you believe a girl is reading about sports. lol :) i can't help it i love it!

mandie reed