Monday, 30 November 2009

Paranormal Activity - Horror Film Review

Paranormal Activity - supposedly the most frightening film of the year. I entered the cinema excited, but sceptic. Is it actually as terrifying as the hype states?

The film belongs to the 'found footage' sub genre of horror (the most famous example of this genre being The Blair Witch Project). The film starts with some text stating that what is to be shown is all real footage filmed by a couple called Katie and Myka. Basically weird stuff has been happening around the young couples house. Lights have been flashing, taps have turned themselves on and off, and there has been weird unexplainable noises. Myka has brought a video camera in order to try and film some of this stuff. Katie is scared of all the happenings and just wants it all to stop, while Myka is really excited by it, and wants to catch it all on film. The events of the film take place over 20 days in the couples house. Things start off fairly tame, but the weirdness just keeps on ramping up, which pushes the sanity of the couple to the limit.

This review is gonna be kinda boring as I'm not gonna give anything away. The film is shot entirely in a suburban house. There are 4 characters in the film, but for the vast majority of the time it is just the couple. Being filmed with a hand camera could have led to shaky vision, but a lot of the time a tripod is used, a fixed viewpoint of the couples bedroom each night. The special effects in the film are amazing, and look more realistic due to an amateur camera being used. The acting is to a very high standard, the couple really seem like a authentic real life couple.

The film is very scary. By the end I had tears of fear streaming down my face. There were only really 2 or 3 really terrifying bits, the rest was anticipation of scares that caused the fear. This really felt like a spiritual successor to The Blair Witch Project, completely unrelated plot, but the actual feel was the same feeling I had watching Blair Witch. One of creeping dread, and real fear for the safety of the characters. The film is set on a day/night cycle, so most the scary stuff happens at night, making the day scenes wonderful each time they arrive.

Complaints though. Firstly it seems stupid the couple would continue to stay in the house with all this awful stuff happening to them. Sure there is the argument that whatever is happening will follow them no matter where they are, but couldn't they go to an open all night place, just to be surrounded by people and safety? I would have ran out that house as fast as possible very early on, and not just stayed there and endured night after night of terror. Secondly, being single I feel I missed out on some of the terror. It's just so hard to relate to the couples situation having never been in a relationship, as such the film sometimes felt alien to me.

As a side note, there is a story Katie tells her boyfriend early on in the film about being haunted as a child. The tale she tells is nearly identical to what my Mum told me many years ago allegedly happened to her as a child, which lent some fearful reality to the film.

Well worth watching, and quite scary.


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