Paranormal Activity - Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston (89 min.)
Paranormal Activity, the new horror cult phenomenon made for a rumored $11,000.00 will surely bring comparisons to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. And rightfully so. The filming techniques, as well as the delivery of the information harken back to Blair Witch, the most effectively marketed film in history. However, where Paranormal Activity differs from Blair Witch is its ability to deliver on its promise of chills. This is one of the most chilling, truly frightening films around, and an innovative look at how big studio doesn’t always have the market cornered on quality.
Shot entirely on a hand-held digital camera, the film follows the documentation of a couple that lives in San Diego, Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston). The opening of the film is a false “Thank You” to the San Diego Police Department for their cooperation, insinuating that the footage upcoming was discovered. Micah and Katie have recently moved in together, and Micah has purchased an expensive digital camera because Katie is supposedly having an issue with a spirit or an apparition of some sort that has followed her since she was a child. Each night, Micah sets the camera up in their bedroom facing their bed and the entrance to the room to try and catch some of the activity as it happens. Things gradually escalate with this ghost, and the situation each night grows direr as the ghost becomes more aggressive.
During the day, Micah films the two of them playing detective, trying to figure out where or why this ghost is bothering them. They even bring a psychic in to help, and he fears it may not be a ghost, but a demon. I don’t want to say any more about the plot.
During the day, the story loses some steam from time to time, but once the night arrives, the tension is immediate. As each passing night becomes more and more intense, Micah and Katie grow more and more desperate to try and get rid of whatever this thing is. The majority of the frightening moments are camera tricks that are quite seamless for such a cheaply made film. Phantom footprints, shadows, lights coming on randomly, and doors slamming violently all play into the fear that is at the heart of Paranormal Activity.
I don’t want to oversell the fear in Paranormal Activity, but I can safely say that I have never been so totally creeped out as I was watching the events unfold here. The film pulls you into to the lives of these people and the hand-held camera does an excellent job of giving the audience an immediate connection. And that is enough to make those night sequences intimate and completely compelling. I still shudder when “Night #20” comes to mind. But I will say no more…