Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Paranormal Activity


Paranormal Activity is a low-budget movie that has achieved a great deal of popularity. Rather like The Blair Witch Project, it’s a wobbly-camera film, with little-known actors. And it’s also quite good at building suspense.

The set-up is simple. A young couple, Katie and Micah, have moved in to a nice new home, only to find that Katie is pursued by the eponymous activity. They call in an expert, only to find him less than helpful. Micah’s big idea is to buy a camera so that he can film whatever is happening in their home. And the action takes place through the camera lens. So we get a great deal of inactivity, punctuated by bursts of drama.

The relationship between the characters is well done, and in many ways is the best part of the film. As doubts rise to the surface, their contented life together comes under fatal pressure. This is at least as gripping as what is happening in the house, which – one guesses – will not be clearly explained at the end.

I thought this was a good film, although not as brilliant as its reputation might suggest. Perfectly watchable, though, and with a climax that leaves the way open for a sequel.

3 comments:

Deb said...

Here in the States, the "Paranormal Activity" movies have become a franchise. The third in the series opened two weeks ago with an astronomically good box office amount, something like $50 million during opening weekend. The gimmick in the new one is that a video camera is attached to an oscillating fan, so you see part of the scene, then move away, then move back. I'm sure that builds suspense, but because it appears that children are in jeopardy in this one, I will not be seeing it.

John said...

Well, Martin, I completely disagree with you. I thought watching Paranormal Activity was like eavesdropping in on an unhappy couple who can't seem to stop quibbling about everything in their not so interesting lives. The movie was pretty darn dull and seems to have been mostly improvised. Had it been scripted with better dialog it might have more interesting to me. As a horror movie it fails miserably. It had exactly one big scare towards the end that was extremely well done. Otherwise, it was the movie watching equivalent of sitting in your backyard and watching the grass grow. That it spawned two sequels leaves me stunned. The financial success of this movie says a lot about the tastes of a general public that seems to find "reality" TV and "reality" style stories more interesting than fictional narrative films. To me that is not a good sign for the future of movies and storytelling.

Martin Edwards said...

Deb and John, thanks. PA 2 is now on Sky, so I may take a look and see what it's like. Meanwhile, another spooky film review will be coming shortly....