Paranormal Activity Review

Published 4 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
(Excellent)

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TAGS: Paranormal Activity

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  1. Gosh. I stated my opinion here long ago and am not going to rehash all. But I could not resist commenting after recent comments about it being real. I am amazed anyone can believe that! The acting was SO bad! The worst was the expert that came to the house…really bad. There was nothing that felt real about that interchange.

  2. Hello…
    Yea. I don’t recommend anyone watch this movie. It felt like a total let down when it came to an end. I watched it with my dad, husband, step mom and step brother. The only one who thought it was okay was my 15 y/o step bro. We were all very bored and kept expecting something thrilling to come. There were some parts that were kind of creepy, like the foot prints and the door shadow but really not believable and plain boring. We were very disappointed because we were told by so many people how great it was and that some people had night mares and such… but nah… it was not scary nor entertaining. I watched Julie and Julia afterwards and that made it all better. =)
    We were also disappointed about the ending. I thought it was a waste of an ending. Too cliche.

    Also. I am thankful I didn’t spend almost 40 dollars to see it in the theatre, we rented it and paid 6 dollars.

  3. This movie was a complete bore…. found ourselves calling a friend asking.. “Does it get any better than this?”

    The guy was an over actor… and annoying……..
    She grated on our nerves… and didn’t act well enough.

    Do we doubt that these things can happen? NO….
    Do we believe these people portrayed the happenings well enough…. NO….

  4. We rented this movie after all the hype. All the trailers and the build up, were those people shown in the audience really watching this movie? I would have to say NO. Most likely the new Nightmare on Elm Street. It got off to an extremely slow start and didn’t improve. In fact the areas that were suppose to be frightening where more cheesy and comical. My recommendation don’t even waste your time or money renting it.

  5. Steve,

    Your multiple comments of how great the movie was only leaves me to believe you were a part of the small production or cast. It was terrible….give it a rest

  6. this movie wasnt great but it wasnt bad either for being a movie that they only spent like 15,000 on it kept you on the edge of your see after the first half hour cause that part was kind of slow but otherwise this movie is pretty good for being such a low budget movie plus i seriously do not believe that this movie was based off anything real at all

  7. Saw this movie last night with my wife and it was scary as all get out, the problem with people saying that this movie is “crap” and not scary is that those people are lets say “simple” folks who have to be stimulated but with budget CGI monsters and special effects. If you have half a brain you like this movie and were generally scared by it, the reason being because the events that take place for Katie and Micah are not too far from reality for some people.

    I don’t think either of us slept last night and I still can’t get the movie out of my head, if you have enough of a brain to actually understand where the director of the movie is coming from you would understand why it’s scary, but if you’re a big special effects person, or someone who doesn’t have much of an attention span this movie isn’t for you, however, if you can think like an adult and actually live with a spouse you’ll get this movie and be genuinely scared!!

  8. *YAWN*SNORE*YAWN*

    Oh, excuse me…. someone bored me more than the movie!

  9. Simple yet very effective I’ve seen many horror movies and this one ranks in the top one or two, any one can make a movie seem scary by adding special effects, gore and loud noises which make you jump out of you seat but only the great ones stick with you after you watch it.

  10. This movie definitely did not live up to all the hype. it was just an hour and a half of sitting there waiting for something to happen but nothing does happen. Really not a scary movie….

  11. I watched the movie and honestly I thought it was just another Cloverfield style movie and I wasn’t dissapointed. Towards the end I felt like I was watching an episode of Ghost Hunters with more action. As far as making a sequel to this movie, I think the money would be better spent making something someone would actually want to watch a second time. After the end I was dissapointed even more. I just wish someone in Hollywood would have an original idea and try not to overthink the whole project from beginning to end and take the safe way out.

  12. @dom I agree with you in some respects, but I lost interest in the movie when the ouiga board caught on fire all by itself. That was a little too far that early in the movie. Honestly I don’t need a lot of special effects, I enjoyed the original Haunting of Hill House, not the remake with Liam Neeson. But the problem I have with all these horror movies these days is simple, too much blood and guts and not enough scare you out of your pants. Talk about a predictable storyline. Everyone dies, the end. One of the best horror movies I have seen in the last twenty years was the remake of Amytiville Horror with Ryan Reynolds. I know people are going to disagree but I don’t care.

  13. honestly i agree with most of the people on here they made it seem like it was one of the scariest movies ever but it realy wasnt i laughed through most of it because to me it was more of a comedy than a horror film

  14. I laughed through most of this movie because it was more of a comedy to me than a horror film one of the most boring movies i have ever seen i dont understand why people made such a big deal out of it.

  15. hehehheh… i think it’s a true but… it is a joke…do you think your film is good…huh..

  16. Luckily it was only 85 mins long, as what I seen was a terrible waste, I lost 85 mins of my life that I’ll never get back. When the Exocist came out in the theaters people puked and fainted in the aisles because of how scary it was, I puked on the carpet by how terrible this movie was. For those that think the movie was real, the DVD has an alternate ending. Last I checked you only die once. “Hold up, can I get you to come back to life so I can shoot an alternate ending”.

  17. I thought it was one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a while, and I’ve seen a bunch of them. Yes, the exorcist was good, but it was also predictable. There was nothing in this movie that was predictable, other than Micah not following the psychic’s advice. I did hate that they kind of gave away the ending in the trailer, but if they hadn’t done that, there’s NO way you can say you saw it coming. From what I can tell from the comments, this isn’t a movie for teens or twenty-somethings, who are so used to a horror movie that is nothing but blood, gore, and sex. You want blood and gore, go see Last House on the Left. If you want a storyline, then see this.

  18. FOR ALL YOU PEOPLE THAT ARE SAYING THAT THIS MOVIE WAS A WASTE AND WASNT SCARY WELL WE DONT NEED TO HEAR WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. I BET THAT YOU ALL WATCHED AT TWO IN THE AFTERNOON WITH THE SUN AS HIGH AS IT WILL BE IN THE SKY WITH LIKE SEVEN OTHER PEOPLE AROUND YOU. IF YOU REALLY WANT IT TO BE SCARY THEN DO WHAT I DID: WATCH IT AT MIDNIGHT WITH NO LIGHTS ON IN A SILENT ROOM PREFERABLY WHEN NOBODY ELSE IS HOME. WEAR HEADPHONES SO U CANT HEAR ANY EXTRA BACKGROUND NOISE AND ALSO WITH THE LIGHT OF THE SCREEN IN YOUR EYES YOU WONT BE ABLE TO SEE WHAT IT THE ROOM IS AROUND YOU. NOW ITS A TRUE SCARY MOVIE. NOW LETS SEE WHO WANTS TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. OHH YA BY THE WAY IF YOUR OUT THERE RIGHT NOW GOING LIKE YOUR NO MORE OF A MAN THAN ME CAUSE I DID THAT TO WEEL FYI IM ONLY TWELVE YEARS OLD.

  19. Lizzibeth, David

    Well done, you are two of the few people on here who GET this movie and who obviously have an imagination. I am going to watch it again soon, late at night, in the dark……if I can pluck up the courage!

  20. This movie was predictable, it’s typical, how many times does the covers need to be lifted up until you realize someone is going to get drug out of the bed. How much Baby powder does a person have to put down before you realize there is going to be a footprint in it. It all was pretty much predictable. David, since you are 12 years old, you get a pass for being scared. But I have to ask what you were doing up at 12 midnight, with no one else. I atleast hope your parents were in the next room, however if you have to watch a movie like that, headphones, at midnight, in the dark, by yourself, it really isn’t that scary. The scary ones will scare you no matter what time or how you watch them. I recommend 30 Days of Night, it’s a little bloody, but it’s one of the few movies that the setting is just as scary as everything else, when you watch this you even feel cold. Snow, Alaska, and complete darkness for 30 Days, make for a terrifying setting, just my opinion though.

  21. Ok what I really want to know is how they did the shadows on the door. And how Rey did the foot prints without being seen. this is the scariest movie I have ever seen. I watched it like three times once with my boyfriend once with a bunch of girlfriends and once withmu family. When I eTched it with my boyfriend I hot so scared he had to help le stop crying . Yeahh, I was friggen crying. Itscared the crapnout of me all three times.

  22. @ Haley Follis

    Pssst… Haley… can you hear me?
    No!
    Come closer to your monitor…
    No, closer….
    Can you hear me now??
    Boo…

  23. As for myself I’ve just been watching the movie and i’d say I find it rather, a little dull. Maybe it’s because some friends told me it was very scary and in the trailer everyone’s scream…

  24. Yawn!…..Dull, typical kinda Blair Witch type movie, repetitive (go to bed, hear things, check on it, wake up)…..nauseating watching this from view of the camera. Good acting however, made you think it really was just a “home movie”……but none the less, predictable, and boring. I would give it 5 out of 10….Movie fell short of suspense and giving you that ‘creepy’ feeling that some horror movies leave you with after wards…If you have an hour and a half with nothing to do, it will fill up your time, otherwise, find something else more exciting to do..

  25. I’m amazed that any found this film scary in the slightest bit. I actually wish I hadn’t purchased the DVD after watching the free courtesy download Amazon gave me. I liked the two actors which made it bearable, but I never once felt a sense of fear or dread. Lights coming on in other parts of the house, footsteps, baby powder?

    The last 2 minutes were intense, other than that, it felt like a waste of my time.

    Kudos to the filmmaker for trying something new. But I certainly hope this is not the direction for the horror genre. I need more of my senses involved in the process.

  26. WTF, are you kidding me; this was the stupidest thing I’ve ever watched! I think I’m going to go rent the Blair Witch Project to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

    I just love puking while reading the reviews of how great this movie was / is…are we watching the same movie?

    There was so much logically wrong with this movie it was unreal.

    DON’T EVEN WASTE YOUR TIME!

    Anyone up for some good old scary Sponge Bob action!?

  27. This is the most hopeless movies ever. I live in India. I spent INR 50 to see this movie. That is $ 1… Yeah dirt cheap … but I think even that was a waste of money…. until the climax scene, everyone in the theatre was shouting at the director of the movie that please scare us a little bit at least … and the climax was damn too predictable … you go to see such movies to enjoy the scare that goes down coldly in your veins … but believe me.. This movie will not be able to make any impact on you short term memory even.

    I would suggest .. better go watch some other non-horror movie instead .. they don’t know how to make horror movies any more.

  28. LMAO if this isn’t the fakest Blair Witch clone I have ever seen then I am a canister of Talcum Powder.

  29. Come on!!!
    It is a crap movie!!
    The worst I have seen.
    A waste of money to see it,
    Get real!

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