Paranormal Activity

Made for a budget of somewhere between $12k – $15k, Paranormal Activity is the independent filmmaker’s dream: a low budget film that’s generating big budget success. The writer / director Oren Peli was inspired by a number of things including strange noises in his house as well as low-budget films like The Blair Witch Project and Open Water.

I guess I’m a bit desensitized but I didn’t think it was all that super-scary. I thought it was good, but I thought the build up could’ve been shorter or more intense along the way. I thought that Blair Witch did it better, the tension and edginess was more convincing; by the time I saw Paranormal Activity I felt like kind of “been there, done that” with Open Water as part of my experience as well.

One of the things that’s done really well is the marketing campaign. The internet buzz built with people going online to vote to have the film screen in their city. So the hype had hype, pretty neat trick.

It has it’s moments of being creepy, the audience I saw it with certainly thought so. It’s interesting to watch an audience react to a film. One thing I’ve noticed is that the audience will start to talk as a collective unit aloud with their friends and loved ones when they’re particularly disturbed by a film. It seems to me that one of the reasons the audience does this is to remind themselves that they’re still in the audience and not in the movie. This film does have that kind of impact, which makes the film very effective, so despite my de-sensitivity the audience was creeped out and showed it.

The “gotcha” at the end is also pretty effective as it was the one time I genuinely jumped, to be honest, I don’t think you can avoid jumping, at the very least flinching.

Overall good film for fans of low-budget reality based horror films.

reviewed by Sean McKnight