Paranormal Activity Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated October 22nd, 2010 at 1:33 am,

paranormal activity review Paranormal Activity Review
Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Paranormal Activity

[Check out our Paranormal Activity 2 review]

Paranormal Activity is a little film that was reportedly made for $11,000 over the course of a seven-day shoot by writer/director/producer/editor Oren Peli, and stars newbies Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat and the couple’s camcorder.

The ghost story is pretty straightforward: Katie and Micah (the actors use their real names in the film) are a young couple who have been together for about a year or two and have recently taken the plunge of moving in together. Soon after, they begin to experience weird paranormal activity taking place in their home – lights and sinks turning on and off, doors slamming, etc. Katie soon reveals that this isn’t the first time she’s been “haunted by ghosts” – when she was 8, she had re-occurring visits from a shadowy apparition and her family’s home was eventually burned to the ground without explanation. Since then, the apparition has followed Katie wherever she goes, “visiting” her from time to time, up to the present. Micah wishes that Katie had told him all this BEFORE they moved in together.

Katie is freaking out about the reappearance of her ghostly stalker, but Micah (of course) is too MANLY to believe in such nonsense, so he invests in a top-grade camera, some top-grade mini microphones and sound recording software, in order to wire the house for a ghost-hunting experiment. Our POV is that of the camcorder and boom mic, as they record the paranormal happenings taking place in Katie and Micha’s home over the course of about three weeks.

That’s the setup, and it would be hard to go much deeper without dropping some major SPOILERS.

I can tell you that Katie and Micah bring in a psychic (Michael Bayouth) who determines that what they’re facing isn’t a ghost trying to establish communication, but rather a malevolent demon, hell bent (pun intended) on claiming Katie’s soul. The psychic tells Katie and Micah that they need to bring in a “demonologist” to help exorcise the evil spirit – only the guy is currently vacation, so they’ll have to wait it out. In the meantime, the psychic breaks down a few demon rules for the couple (and us) to understand:

  1. There is no running from it – leave the house and the spirit will only follow.
  2. The spirit feeds off negative energy (anger, fear, etc).
  3. Don’t do ANYTHING to enrage or attract the demon – especially buying a Ouija Board.

Of course, if you’ve ever seen a horror movie before you know that the rules are only there to be broken by doomed fools. Katie is all nervousness and pragmatism (“Honey, let’s just stop and ask for directions…”), but Micah, the skeptic, would rather “man-up” and handle things his own way (read: pacing the house, challenging the evil spirit to show itself). Smart idea.

paranormal activity poster Paranormal Activity Review

The best horror movies are the ones that exploit our deep-seated anxieties about real-life events or situations. The Exorcist was every parent’s worst nightmare: their innocent child suffering a terrible affliction; Rosemary’s Baby played upon the high-anxiety of pregnancy and child-rearing; Hitchcock’s Psycho gleefully exploited the near-universal fear of random, unprovoked violence. Paranormal Activity will stand out for a long time in my mind (and I’m sure others) because it hits just the right panic buttons inside the brain: the familiar fear of the creaky, empty house at night – but more importantly, the high-anxiety of being in a relationship.

The latter theme is only subtly touched on, due to the nature of the POV (it would’ve stupid to have the couple record their dramatic fight moments), but that current is always on and running, coursing through the cinematic subtext. Anybody you partner with in life is bound to come with baggage – Katie’s baggage just so happens to be a freaky demon. Micah is portrayed as something of an alpha-male stereotype – brash and insensitive a lot of the time, you know the picture – but also as a guy who is genuinely trying to help his chick sort out all of the crazy in her past, so they can be happy together in the present. And, like real-life relationships, sometimes the best intentions…

Continue reading our Paranormal Activity Review

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. it was a good film it was entertaining, but i watched the preview of it on Zune on the xbox and it showed people watching it in the cinema and it showed them jumping etc, this film didnt make me jump im not freaked out after watching it, it done well to be creepy but i just wasn’t scared the only reason i was slightly nervous was because of the reputation this film has and the quote “scariest movie ever” it wasnt though you could tell when something was going to happen because it switched to a bedroom scene.

  2. I do had a ghost once in my bedroom…it woke me up.
    It touched me…licked me…pleased me even.
    Great experience…

  3. I honestly got bored after the powder footprint scene but i jumped at the banging on the floor part but other than that if you want to see something creepy watch ghosthunters or something good it wasnt terrible just didnt live up to its hype in my opinion

  4. this movie sucked!!!!!!!!!! I am 12 years old it did not scare me at all waste of time

    • Tough guy.

    • Watch out we’ve got a badass over here!

  5. Pfff, movie is absolutely terrible. Micah and Katie are pretty smart though, considering how low budget the film was and how much money it made at the box office. Still an awful movie, not much else can be said about it.

  6. I was amazed by how awful this movie was. I’m even more amazed that millions of people were sucked into spending their money on this. My sister tells me that she lost two nights of sleep over this movie, so I said, to hell with it, lemme borrow it, ill watch it myself. I literally had to try to make myself get into this movie, you know, turn off the lights, put the volume up all the way, and really watch it, you know, as an involved viewer. I can’t believe how terrible the end result was. The actors really give you the impression that they’re real people… that is, real people paid to act. The entire time I watched it I had to continuously remind myself of the film’s budget, but in the end that did not save it from the hype, the money it made in the box office and beyond, and the crap I suffered watching on the screen for an hour and a half. Abysmal. Absolutely abysmal.

  7. This movie was not scary at all i’m a thirteen year old girl and that movie did’t scare me the slightest I barely flinched and it was way to short


  9. I give Paranormal Activity 4.5/5! This is not a traditional horror film by any means and if you went to watch to get scared to the level you’d wet your pants or run out of the cinema, then it’s a huge disappointment. I’ve watched ‘A Haunting’, ‘The Grudge’ so it doesn’t scare me at all. Still, I’m impressed by everything else about it! ‘Blair Witch’ and ‘Cloverfield’ made me sick!

  10. This was the worst movie of all time. My a$$hol3 could make a better movie. Now there’s gonna be a 2nd movie. Great….what’s the world comin to. F this movie and the creators should …

  11. I don’t kow why people on the comments here hate soo much, but i watched it with my friend and we were freaked out…I loved it!! 5/5

  12. I don’t see how this movie could scare anyone. I am more content with watching A Haunting. There is much better acting on that show.

  13. dangerous

  14. I have seen almost all horror movies – real horror movies not gory ones. I do get freaked out a bit but not really scared – psycho, exorcist, the omen, ring, grudge and all the movies in between that have been mentioned in the discussion. This by far was the scariest. Just the first part though. Second part not as much. The best part about it was they havent shown anyone scary. Its just the sound effects and the couple freaking out with the progressively scary events in the house. Not sure why people hate this movie if they like the horror genre.. The Haunting — c’mon. I got bored in that movie. Great movie.

  15. Loved it. And people please, stop complaining. No one held a gun to your head and MADE you pay for that ticket so shut up. Personally, I thought it was great. Can’t wait until #4! :)

    • I loved this movie. I watched with my partner in the dark not knowing what to expect.

      If you go in with an open mind I think you come away pleased. We did and we got a scare into the bargin.

      I don’t think kids should watching it, but that’s another point. I guess that’s down to the parents at the end of the day.

      I got a scare from all 3, and having watched a lot of horror movies, I think I can say that this was one of the best psychological horrors in a while.

      I wish some film makers would take note of the fact that there isn’t always a need for a gore fest to try and scare people.

    • With a name like pooh im not surprised you loved it, its just like one of them fake ghost videos on utube but a hell of a lot longer, when i watch movies like this i cant help but think fake fake fake, personally i preffer a movie with a lot more effort like insideous or poltergeist, something with more imagination but then again Americans still think the towers were blown up by Bin Laden so i can understand why they loved it

  16. I picked up the DVD on sale and decided to give it a go. I thought it was an intelligent low-budget movie that played on anxieties and vulnerabilities. The male lead was an annoying slef-serving know-it-all prick (I didn’t see alpha-male machismo or heroic jock); but I think he nailed that character and I enjoyed the fact that he annoyed me. Overall, it was a refreshing change from the torture porn that is passing for horror movies these days (SAW, Hostel, The Strangers, etc..). I like the reviews from 12 and 13 year old kids (if indeed they are), and feel bad that they didn’t find this movie creepy. Maybe I’m from a different era where playing “Ghosts in the Graveyard” in the pitch-black woods by my parents cabin was as terrifying as what you allowed your imagination to succumb to.

  17. This film didn’t rely on the loud scary music and the awful gore, so much as the mystery and the air of anticipation. I thought it was great. I think horror movie makers should look at this movie as an example of how to scare someone, rather than gross them out.

  18. With a name like pooh im not surprised you loved it, its just like one of them fake ghost videos on utube but a hell of a lot longer, when i watch movies like this i cant help but think fake fake fake, personally i preffer a movie with a lot more effort like insideous or poltergeist, something with more imagination

  19. this movie sucks and so does the franchise i feel sorry for the people who payed to see it and who thought it was scary. my farts are scarier than this load of bull. this is not a horror it it a failure. not only is it done with one of the worst cameras ive ever seen but its so not scary for a supposed horror movie. dear creators of the movie i would like the time i wasted watching this movie back. also look up the TRUE DEFINITION of a HORROR MOVIE/ SCARY MOVIE