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

« 1 2»

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Actually I do think that this movie is probably much more effective watched at home late at night. 8)


  2. One of the most disturbing films I have ever seen, Joe W I mirror your comment, when she was dragged out the bed…and when ‘she’ watches Micha sleeping. The last parts of the film really got to me and are still playing on my mind.
    But if I’m still thinking about it now and cannot sleep with even a hand outside my bed covers the film did what it was set out to do, scare people s***less.

  3. OMG, just been to see this film and after reading the reviews on here I was really looking forward to seeing a scary film!!!!!!
    What have all you people been watching?? It was the most boring film I have ever had the misfortune to sit through! It was not scary in the slightest and it only made me jump once which was in the last minute!!!
    I did not come out of there scared or nervous or even worrying about what could be lurking in my loft, in fact I almost told the queue of people waiting to see it that the scariest part of their night will be the amount of their time and money they waste going to see it!!!!!!!

  4. I thought this film was really good, thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a little slow to start with but looking back, it probably helped to raise the boil gently. It goes to prove for me that psychological fear is much scarier than an all out gore fest. The concept is simple and it worked. Boo!

  5. I genuinely couldn’t go to the toilet in my own home i was that frightened.

    My hands go up to whoever made this one, they’ve really outdone themselves

    5 stars.

  6. The film was very well put together, well shot and had the right amount of tension.
    It had the right amount of creepiness to keep the viewer on edge and not get bored or impatient.
    It’s very low budget, but that I suppose is the effectiveness – it’s also very well acted, so the realism factor really plays a big part in keeping the chill factor steady!
    I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the ‘scariest film ever’, it’s more of a psychological horror, as the realism, the documentary moviecam style recording and atmosphere give it that ‘being there’ feel.
    Just don’t expect blood, gore, and vampires or such things, it’s not great, but entertaining!
    It’s worth watching, and much better than Blair Witch.

  7. I went to the cinema to see this film last night and I was completely disappointed. It never really got going, not a single bit made me jump and I slept like a baby afterwards. I’m usually fairly jumpy during horror films, even shaun of the dead gave me nightmares, but this film did nothing for me. It wasnt scary, I spent most of the movie bored and the ending was lazy and equally disappointing. I good choice if youre frightened by a blanket moving. Most the film was just the couple talking with a occasional bits of apparently ‘paranormal activity’. I wanted to watch a horror movie, not a suspence movie.

  8. BOOOOOOOORING movie!!!! No strong storyline, too slow, very dissapointing :( The last 15 minutes was okay, but still far from my expectation.

  9. I actually thought this film was going to be amazing, it’s had so much hype. But it was a bit of a non-entity. My advice to you is, if you’re going to watch it watch it at home by yourself with the lights off and you might feel a bit freaked, but you will have to push your imagination harder than the film does. I went to see it in a packed cinema, everyone was laughing, talking, shouting through it and it’s imnpossible to feel even remotely scared when that’s all going on. Needless to say by the time I got home I had already forgotten most of the film and it certainly didn’t keep me up at night. I think it could be ok but don’t go and see it at the cinema close to launch night. Download it or something until dvd comes out, or go and see it two months after everyone else has so the cinema will be empty. Cost me nearly an english tenner to go and be bored and annoyed out of my mind. I wasn’t a happy customer by the end. (In case you’re wondering they did eventually throw out the loud people, five minutes before the end, making everyone miss the most important part of the film)

  10. this movie sucks, its the worst ive ever seen.
    I felt like i wanted my money back in the first 20 minutes,
    nothing realy happened, you cant see anything and therefore it looks realy fake.
    you only see the man and woman being affraid for nothing, there’s no story at all in the movie, i could make it myself at my own place.
    I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone, its just a waiste of youre time and money

  11. I think this movie is the most boring, unscary film I have ever seen. I get the low budget angle but there is no build up of tension, I don’t care about the characters, and it just annoyed me. I have a very vivid imagination but nothing about this film stimulated it. I think Alfred Hitchcock said ‘ there is nothing more terrifying than your own imagination’ horror films today do nothing but force feed our imaginations, there is no room for imaginations to run riot.

  12. Omg .. i got pritty hyped up about seeing it .. “oh its the scariest film ever” ” my husband cudnt let the cat out in the dark he was that scared” … well it was a load of poo if u ask me, my friend said at the beginning to me “is ths a porno?!” no it wasnt much to his dissapointment .. i think i was s**tting myself more before the film than through it or after it! … i was like omg its menna b ded scary … oh no … n such .. gets in there .. gets 10 mins through i have calmed down .. then im bored … then my friends making jokes .. then we got bored … VERY BORED! … the only good bit was the ending i have to say :) .. i feel so bad i wasted my money ..

    My advice … DONT BOTHER! BIGGEST PEICE OF S**T EVER! Hi5 Is scarier by miles!

  13. I really don’t get when people say there was no tension or suspense in this movie. Tension and suspense wondering what was going to happen was ALL this movie was about.


  14. 1)This is an intelligent film that allows the viewer to create a tension within themselves. you must have an imagination to get this . Being a critic watching this will not help u enjoy this. 2) This is not to be viewed as a film, more a piece of amature footage that has been found.

    If you can watch it for what it is …it is a extremely powerful piece of footage. The feeling that we are left with is one of uneasiness that last long after the show looking over your shoulder …not going down stairs for a glass of water in the middle of the night…..ya get the feeling that all is not right in your world

    if you can get your mindset right watching this film then it is very rewarding.


  15. This movie was very boring. Except for the ending. I could have fell asleep easily. I dont even believe in ghost and such, and even if i did i wouldnt have believed this dumb movie. Dont waste your money.

  16. i never watched the film yet but i heard its really scary.and i really want to watch it I WILL HOPEFULLY

  17. ohhhhhh my god the film was extremely scary. i was like oh my god.and then i went …………………. to be continued

  18. the film was scary,i was holding my girlfriend aleena Jake and because she was crying and then i called her mum to help her and then no one came for so i decided to help her by kissing her because the film was that much but i think it was extremely not scary
    to find out about my girlfriend write on Google (iftys girl she proper pretty)

  19. This movie SUCKS BIGTIME!

  20. Im fed up of people saying that im missing the MEANING of this film and that Im not CREATIVE enough. Fact is, this movie isnt scary and isnt realistic. On top of that the story line was weak and unimagenative and the ending was abrupt, lazy and completely disappointing. I can use my imagenation, but when I go to the cinema I expect the director to give me something to work with, otherwise I’d have just stayed home and played with a cardboard box.

  21. was not scary at all, could have been more imaginative and maybe more effort, far too un original and if not copying other films…nice try, but you failed!!!

  22. Pliz peeps stop saying that this film suxx, its just a matter of taste. I loved it, and i was so scareeed. Like when i was a child, sleeping at my grandmother’s house, scared of the dark, and shadow.

    If you like this kind of movie, go ahead, and whatch it.

    Listenning to others opinions, can make you miss good stuuf.

  23. This film has been bigged up, i watched it last night and honestly thought it was awful.
    Like one scary bit in the whole thing dont watch it its a waste of time

  24. I loved the film and thought it was proper scary . . . . in fact I am not too keen on going to bed just in case. Freaky freaky freaky !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. I saw the film tonight, thought it was one of the best films I’ve ever seen and was so scared I was actually whimpering and screamed at the end. WELL worth seeing.

  26. this film is messed up !!! very very good thooo iv just watched it on my own at 3 17am

  27. I wnet o see this film last night and I have to say this is the first horror film that’s shook me up. I found that this film was great, I didn’t see why people said it was a bad film..
    This is one of the best horror’s I have watched so far and to be honest I am still shaking..
    This film is well worth it and it’s worth ‘orange wednesday,’ you can call me a wimp all you want but yeah this film was true when it says you will sleep with the lights on.. I did!!

  28. I was so scared!! at fist my boyfriend said it was a documentory, I had never heard of this movie so I went along, he said it was just going to be a movie like the show on TLC. I get scared really easily but this movie not only scared me I was shaking, cring but the end. Like wtf, when I got home I needed to check only to make sure it was a Hollywood, because it looks exactly like a real documentory about your life…
    Anyway very scary, since I watched it on Friday Nov.27 I can’t get up at night alone, I need to wake my boyfriend up, for him to come at the washroom with me… Thats how scary this movie is

  29. Seriously. this film is terrible. watched it with my girlfriend the other day at the cinema. i love scary films but they rarely full on scare me. my gf on the other hand jumps at the slightest bump and gets really scared of stuff i just shrug at. and even SHE didn’t jump once. most of the movie is the two annoying ‘stars’ arguing and bickering about nothing, Micah being the alpha-male moron and Katie the scared little girl. then some stuff happens and poof, film over. one thing i will say is that, for the budget, the effects are very nice, and i’m a fan of the POV handheld camera malarkey. but honestly, i’ve seen scarier things out of my bedroom window…