By now, you’ve probably already heard of this film. It has been around on the festival circuit since late 2006 and has seen a general release to select theatres since the beginning of October, and has now entered a much wider release.
You’ve probably heard the inevitable comparisons that have been tossed around – “it’s kinda like the Blair Witch” – Don’t believe the hype. This film is better.
The main reason this comparison exists, is the fact that it is a pure D.I.Y film, made for around 15,000 dollars. It uses previously unknown actors (four in total), so it is a little easier to suspend your disbelief, and no doubt cheaper for the director/producer. What the movie lacks in budget and name-recognition, it more than makes up for with moments of skin-crawling creepiness and sheer terror thrown in for good measure.
To give you a quick plot summary: one of the characters has been followed around by a ghost since she was a little girl. Her new boyfriend, whom she has recently moved in with, decides to purchase some high end camera and audio equipment to film the ghostly shenanigans that have been occurring as they sleep. Seems pretty innocuous, right? But what they find out is rather disheartening and very, very scary.
The first 20-30 minutes of the film are rather boring. Shots of daily life and some conversation between the main characters. The director wants you to believe they are regular Joes who are caught in a very strange situation. If you can make it through the mundane, the reward as the film progresses and the characters lives are turned upside down is well worth it.
This film is all about the art of the jump-scare, and contains some of the finest examples I’ve seen for the genre. You know the scare is coming, but there is nothing you can do about it. Paranormal Activity is a movie you need to see in theatres, rather than the comfort zone of your own living room, having other react around you will only enhance the uneasiness you will feel.
The theatrical release ending differs a great deal from the festival version (which I might add has also just appeared on the internet). After seeing both, I much prefer the festival version. There is also a rumoured third ending but no evidence has appeared to support this – keep your eyes on YouTube.
Spielberg was one of the champions of getting it into distribution. It has been rumoured that strange things (a la poltergeist) happened around his house as he viewed it.
This film has some material that is a clear homage to ‘the exorcist’ and was clearly influenced by it.