Paranormal Activity (2007)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.2/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) - Oren Peli

What happens when you sleep?

With a budget of only $15,000 against its successful box office of nearly $200 million, Paranormal Activity is one of the most recent horror cult films, spawning an entirely new franchise with two sequels, a third to be released this year. Based on return on investment, Paranormal Activity is the most profitable film ever made, and analytically from many film critics, the scariest film ever made.

Paranormal Activity follows a young couple who believe that a supernatural presence is haunting their new home. Each night, they mount a camera on a tripod in their bedroom to record any paranormal activity that might occur while they are sleeping. The film itself is presented in "found footage" style, from the camera that the couple sets up.

After the success of The Blair Witch Project, the "found footage" genre slowly died away. Paranormal Activity, along with the monster flick Cloverfield, are the two present movies that revived the genre.

The premise of the film is the most intriguing. The plot makes logical sense of why the movie needs to be presented in the found footage format, and thus the shaky camerawork no longer bothers the audience. The story becomes more and more real as the narrative progresses the characters and audience forward.

Paranormal Activity follows specifically the couple, and thus there are mainly two faces on screen the entire time, both being unfamiliar. However, both actors delivered and convinced as a couple, thanks to the fact that most of the script is left wide open for them to improvise under the scenarios made. When it comes to open room being given to actors, naturalism is key, that the lines they give fit well and belong in the scene. Fortunately, naturalism is present here in the acting, one of the greatest engines that drive the soul of Paranormal Activity. However, when it comes to the actual characters that they portray, sometimes they do stupid or illogical things that one would simply not do if thinking straight. This is where the script begins to reveal its gaps.

Despite the film working as a very simple and possibly amateurish, the script itself shows signs of amateurism. As mentioned before, the script opens up room for actors to improvise. However, the open room being given only exists in the scary scenes, letting the fear factor kick into our protagonists. The problem is that the places where the script does exist are not good enough, meaning the scenes where characters just simply talk. With the characters sometimes doing things that the audience simply would not, the movie's screenplay slowly trails from provocative to dodgy, causing Paranormal Activity to slowly become a gimmick.

Behind the film's small flaws, Paranormal Activity is undoubtedly atmospheric and moody. The scares are definitely sudden, might as well call them jump scenes instead. In an interview with the producer, he claimed that "many people walked out," thinking that they did not enjoy the movie. It was not until later when he realized that the audiences were walking out because the movie was too terrifying for them. In many horror films, filmmakers rely on visuals to disturb our eyes, most notably spraying our eyes with an immense amount of blood. Here, the scares are mostly implied or innuendoes, touching on the philosophy of "what you do not see is more scary than what the filmmakers can put on screen." The content is undoubtedly arresting, petrifying, and alarming. In spite of many public audience members claiming the movie to be "boring," the film still bears the dimension of expectations, where the audience is expecting something sinister to happen, we just do not know when and how. It will capture your attention and hold your breath to the end.

In conclusion, Paranormal Activity is a very unique horror movie. It arrives during the glut of horrible slasher-visual flicks, as a silent rebel to the cliche horror genre, and goes back to the reason why we found The Blair Witch Project so frightening in the first place. For its defected script and boring moments, it does polarize the audience into two sides: a love-it-hate-it relationship. Nevertheless, Paranormal Activity is definitely considered as a horror cult today. It lives up to its praise of how it is the "scariest movie ever," however I would not say it is the scariest "ever," but is pretty nerve-racking. You just might not want to sleep again, in fear of what might happen around you while you are sleeping.


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