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Paranormal Activity (2009) Movie Review

October 10, 2009

It is often said that unrealistic expectations can cause a person to enjoy something less than they would have otherwise.  Coming into “Paranormal Activity”, I heard the sorts of things that get a horror addict like me excited.  Some said that it was the scariest movie ever made; others that nightmares were a guaranteed response to the terror you would experience on-screen.  As is usually the case, when you walk into anything with such impossible-to-meet expectations, you are going to be disappointed.  My lack of enthusiasm for “Paranormal Activity” largely stems from things completely separate from high expectations.

If you are excited based on the trailer, keep in mind that the trailer is scarier than the first 5/6ths of the film, unless you have a tendency to jump at shadows or your mind plays tricks on you in the dark.  For those of us who have gotten past our fear of the dark when we were teens, there is little in the way of horror until the last terrifying moments.  I use the term moments purposefully because as quickly as it begins and you feel the overwhelming sensation of terror wash over your body, the movie ends.  Maybe it is just the masochist in me talking but the movie would have been much better if the terror had been drawn out for another 5-10 minutes and included some image so terrifying that nightmares would be guaranteed (not so with what is here).

The story in “Paranormal Activity” revolves around a young couple who try to deal with what they believe is a problem with a ghost/demon.  The girl tells her boyfriend that she has been haunted by something since she was a young girl.  She calls up an expert on ghosts who comes to the house and quickly tells the girl that she is experiencing something demonic and far outside of his expertise.  The expert advises the young couple to contact someone who is more experienced in dealing with this sort of dark threat but of course they don’t call him until it is too late.  The entire film is shot as if the girl’s boyfriend is an aspiring cameraman who wants to catch whatever supernatural being is tormenting his girlfriend on tape.  While it may lead some to believe there is an element of realism here, to others it is just a clear sign of the amateur quality of this movie.

The less than stellar quality of the movie is also deeply clear in the terrible dialogue.  As much as it sounds like something a young couple would say to each other, their ignorant banter quickly becomes hard to stomach.  You’ll spend the majority of the movie waiting for something to happen and scaring yourself by imagining things that may or may not hide in the shadows.  There is no soundtrack in the movie so no tension is built through traditional musical means.  The final scary ending is well-done but, as mentioned above, it should have been drawn out much more.  The ending also shouldn’t have been so abrupt because there is little in the form of explanation and winding down.  If you have seen a decent number of horror movies in your time, it is likely that you will find most of the movie devoid of scares.  To the un-initiated, the ending may enter the realm of shocking or emotionally scarring, so don’t go see this movie if you’ve never seen a horror film before.

3/5

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From → Horror

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