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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625 Comments

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  1. heijahhh, eirin og silje in da hæos !!!!! VELDIG BRA FILM. VERY BRA MOVIE !! HEHEHEHEHE VERY NAIS (NICE) HEHEH.lol

  2. This is good horror stuff!!

    Slow tale but keep’s up the horror and scare not on the screen but after you are at home and trying to sleep alone.

    Fear is the concept here.

  3. Is this a comedy or what? Scary, I think not, IMHO! I laughed through the entire movie.

  4. This movie sucks. It’s a waste of time. Nothing scary about it.

  5. I’m sat in bed on my laptop, with my headphones on, the time is 01:21AM, and I just finished watching this movie.I have to say, it’s different.
    I can safely say I enjoyed it, and YES it gave me a few jumps. I’m kinda creeped out by it, but what I found really impressive was the awesome atmostphere created by the actors. Very well done, and pretty scary at parts. Last 2- mins: 10/10
    Overall: 8/10

  6. ok this was the gayest movie i think i have ever seen! like for real y the hell would you go up to the camra and kill ur-self? get real..:)

  7. Look at all these people (probably blokes) trying to discredit a truely disturbing movie out of their Crisis of Masculinity.

    Sigh.

  8. amber says: this was the gayest movie i think i have ever seen! like for real y the hell would you go up to the camra and kill ur-self? get real..:)

    Well amber, I’m thinking that the mind of a person possessed by a demon probably isn’t the most rational!!

    I still stand by my view that this was an absolute gem of a movie, scariest movie for a long time that really stays with you.

    Some people are only happy with blood, gore, non-stop slasher action and can’t see real horror when it’s staring them in the face!!

  9. This movie was just awful, the most horrifying part was the girl getting dragged, and it wasn't even that scary

  10. Woah! How on earth can you say this movie is awful?! The acting is fantastic, the idea behind the film is brilliant, its scary as hell!!! It stretches your imagination to its limits and I cant help but think that anyone that didn't get a little scared or start questioning the paranormal cannot have a very imaginative mind. It was not only petrifying in its darker moments but funny and realistic when it came to the relationship strains, definite thumbs up from me!

  11. lol. r u kidding??

    maybe god want this movie to be made and seen. Maybe god wants us to learn that we must not antagonize the underworld or demons or wateva. This movie teaches us the consquences of that. Also, when judgment day comes, at least we'll all be like 'nah.. i've seen worse!”
    how about that?
    get a grip of yourself

  12. you're a duesch with bad taste, probably like the new trash horror movies with all the titties and blood? Is that what you're scared of, titties and blood? Got news for you bud, those two elements don't necessarily make scary!!!

  13. Haiii lol well i LOVED it :D and i'm single ahaha x x ^^
    it scared the hell out of me… LOL x

  14. You talk about it as if you haven't even seen the movie. Either way i somewhat agree with you that the “handheld shot” movie doesn't sound appealing. I personally dont like any other movies like that, especially cloverfield. They just aren't done right. However, I can assure you it doesn't follow the typical shaky camera with bad lighting etc that most movies shot from a handheld have. In fact throughout the movie the “bad” lighting is used as a scare tactic rather than just realism. The simplicity of the whole movie allows it to be easily related to which is the beauty of it. We all have those feeling or thoughts of what may be in the dark. This movie plays on that and teases you with it little by little then all of a sudden throws it back in your face. I am a huge horror/slasher film nut and have never even been remotely scared by a horror film until i saw this film. The sheer intensity demands you to loose yourself in the movie. And when you do, (which you will) it has you. I saw this movie with 8 friends all said it was the scariest movie they have ever seen by far. I strongly encourage you to see for yourself just how simply brilliant this movie is.

  15. Well I just watched online… Yes, it did scare me… but thank you for reminding me that the power of christ is the thing that keeps this kind of stuff away.. :) JESUS SAVES!

  16. Well I just watched online… Yes, it did scare me… but thank you for reminding me that the power of christ is the thing that keeps this kind of stuff away.. :) JESUS SAVES!

  17. Brilliant? Did we see the same movie. There is no brilliance to this. It is poorly written and a bad concept altogether. There is no beauty. The only real scare in the movie is the final scene and that is just a cheap surprise tactic. Gone are the days of truly great horror films I suppose.

  18. Well?

  19. I agree with sseegars and Mike E. It does not take a lot to entertain nowadays. I think that people got caught up in the hype of it all. I watched the movie and I had to fast forward it all the way to the end for the surprise ending which sort of gave me a jolt but it was did not make me like the movie any more. Kudos to Oren however for making in happen any which way!

  20. Wow i totally write like a valley girl….OMG..TXT ML

  21. movie sucked!!!
    it wasnt scary at all, to me, i think it was one of the worst and dumbest movies i have ever seen!

    • I totally agree.This was one of the most low budget & most boring predictable movies I feel I have ever seen & almost stopped watching as my partner did. How it recieved any positive reviews & claims of being scary & hunting is totally beyond me. I couldnt help but laugh & predict everything that was going to occur throughout this boring repeatitive movie that I could of actually fallen asleep in. What a waste of time & money hiring this crap.Possibly this movie is aimed at young teens, some who may actually find it scary till they watch a decent movie that you can actually call a thriller.

      • erm do you mind naming any decent thrillers that you have seen in your life time mate.. you knw .. just so we can get an idea of ur character and tastes and so we can grasp the reason for ur negative feedback

        you knw just so we can see whether your opinion is acctually valid.

        cheers

        • David Cronenberg’s The Brood,Videodrome,Scanners and The Fly. John Carpenter’s The Thing. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.

  22. Absolutely horrible. Saw this movie a few months ago with a friend expecting to be thoroughly terrified – it was boring and the only part I was actually physically scared in was the final three seconds and I was only a bit shocked. Wouldn't watch it again even if someone paid me. I wouldn't mind it being so crap if everyone hadn't made such a big deal out of it, but it definitely doesn't deserve the hype and success it has. Average, low-budget movie that's not worth a watch.

  23. Absolutely horrible. Saw this movie a few months ago with a friend expecting to be thoroughly terrified – it was boring and the only part I was actually physically scared in was the final three seconds and I was only a bit shocked. Wouldn't watch it again even if someone paid me. I wouldn't mind it being so crap if everyone hadn't made such a big deal out of it, but it definitely doesn't deserve the hype and success it has. Average, low-budget movie that's not worth a watch.

    • I agree totally with Charley. I didn’t realize the type of movie it was until I got it and started watching. When it started I was like “oh crap, one of those low budget, predictable, lame movies, and a documentary at that.” Luckily I only wasted a dollar as I got it from Redbox. Very thankful for this website as I read these reviews to see if it gets any better before deciding to continue wasting my time watching. Soooo boring. Turned it off and watched Sons of Anarchy instead.
      I saw more than what happened in this movie in my own home growing up and at my grandmas. We messed with ouija boards and some wierd stuff happened. Much more exciting than anything in this movie.
      Take my word, this sucks and is not worth watching.
      I don’t get why anyone liked it.

  24. If you read this head my warning! You will be wasting your time watching this crap!!! It had horrible pacing and 3 good parts. It sucked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Wintermute,WHAT WERE YOU WATCHING!!!!!! Barney is better than this and Barney has negitive stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Ana Leiphart, You are right!!! I agree

  27. No

  28. Wat movie were you watching. Barney is better!!!!!!!!!

  29. I have just finished watching paranormal activity…and I thought it was a great film. I wasnt sure it was going to be good before I watched it as I heard a few bad feedbacks…but I can now say its definately worth watching. It totaly freaked me out, and I thought the ending was class, hopefully Ill be able to sleep tonight :S

    • I think this movie is one of those love it or hate it movies. Personally, I liked it, it scared me to pieces and I do not want to watch it again.
      It’s done in a very realistic documentary style, which is consistent throughout the movie. I think the actors are very talented in being able to play the characters as if they’re everyday people.

      I think the Spielberg version of ending is very hollywood, very obvious and easy to interpret (although I do think that certain elements like the stomping could be developed more), whereas the original ending was good, but could be taken up a notch.

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