Friday, October 16, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity is one scary movie. So much so, that I needed to look it up on IMDB after just to convince myself that what I had seen was only a movie. I was much relieved to read that the director, Oren Peli, has another project underway, Area 51, and that the stars have future projects. The films abrupt ending, with no credits or soundtrack left me wondering, if not just a tad concerned about the fates of the stars. Meaning, Paranormal Activity might be a bit more effective than The Blair Witch Project, even without the collaborating websites and print ads to attempt to create a fictional mythology for the film.

Paranormal Activity opens with Micah (Micah Sloat) surprising his girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston) with a new video camera. He intends to keep the camera running to see if they can get any of the creepy phenomena that have been occurring in the night on film. Nearly the entire film is from the perspective of this camera, that is either being held by Micah or on a tripod recording the bedroom as Micah and Katie sleep. This is nice, since it avoids the problem of the constant motion of a camera being held while the actors are being attacked by unknown forces, which avoids the resulting motion sickness i.e. The Blair Witch Project. Instead, the camera is still and much of the "action" of occurs while Micah and Katie are in bed. And the action is very creepy involving what starts as flickering lights, mysterious noises and things moving in the night, but as the days pass, the disturbances become more frequent and much more troubling.

Probably the most intriguing aspect of Paranormal Activity is its success as a scary movie is proof that what frightens is not what is seen, but what is left to the imagination. The moments that are the most jump inducing were loud noises from unseen sources. I suspect this is the reason that while I don't really believe in the supernatural, strange noises in the night still freak me out. Paranormal Activity taps into that fear of what isn't seen or understood and instead just offers enough information to allow us to draw our own conclusions, which are always going to be more scary than what Oren Peli could have created.






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