Paranormal Activity

April 11, 2010
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Paranormal Activity, an independent horror film, first opened at the Scream fest Film Festival on October 14th, 2007. Directed by Oren Peli, a previously unknown film maker, the movie was not expected to go far. Working with a budget of only 15,000, Peli was forced to shoot the film out of his own home and could only hire a total of four actors for the movie. However, after being shown at several more film festivals, Paranormal Activity somehow grabbed the attention of its audiences. It was ultimately bought by Paramount and distributed nationally on October 16th of this year. This low-budget film immediately became a hit, grossing over $104,000,000 since its first showing. The buzz surrounding the movie has increased dramatically. Paranormal Activity was so terrifying that after watching the movie, Steven Spielberg supposedly returned the next day with it in a garbage bag claiming the film was “haunted.” After hearing all of the gossip surrounding this film, I was eager to go and see for myself just how terrifying it could be. I mentally prepared myself to see a movie that would “fry your nerves and creep you out big time” (as Rolling Stones quoted) before going to see the movie with a few friends on Saturday.

A grueling two hours later, as I sat in my seat watching the credits roll down the screen, I found that my opinions of the movie were in discord with those of Rolling Stone, as well as Steven Spielberg: overall, a definite disappointment. Admittedly, however, this movie did have aspects of originality along with some memorable, chilling moments. For example, the movie was filmed in a shaky manner with dull lighting, making the audience believe that it was filmed as a home video. Unlike in a regular film, the way Paranormal Activity was shot only allowed the audience to see you what was in the scope of the person's field of vision. This made me feel a lot less in control of what was occurring, adding to the realistic aspect of the movie. In addition, the movie was all improvisation which contributed greatly to the realistic aspect of the film. It made each actor behave more so like he or she would in real life, making the characters more relatable to the audience. While this created a much creepier feel for the viewer, it inevitably made the movie slightly less exciting and dramatic. The lack of a real script for the movie allowed for some scenes to get a bit boring.

Overall, this was a good movie. If not for the incessant, over-the-top advertisements, I just might have formed a higher opinion. However, my high expectations left me feeling cheated out of the real horror experience I was waiting for and enabled me to toss Paranormal Activity into the category of typical horror films. While you will probably sleep just as well after seeing this movie as you did before you walked in the theater, for a $15,000 budget, the fright factor definitely exceeded some expectations.

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