I hope your house doesn't have Paranormal Activity!
By Dan Angell
A new popular cult flick has been popping up all over the internet and commercial-riddled television recently. Its name is Paranormal Activity. If you have watched any television program at length over the past three or four months you have seen it, the 30 second plugs of static camera terror and first person views of frightened audiences reacting to the intense and unrelenting terror-fest unleashing itself onscreen. You’ve sat and stared with interest peaked. It’s horrifying, it’s terrifying, and it’s more real than anything you’ve ever seen! There is only one slight problem. It isn’t, it isn’t, and it isn’t.
I’ll admit, the single first person camera style the movie is in is interesting. Then, of course, you realize you have to watch the next hour and 30 minutes of the movie from the perspective of these two insufferable characters and it loses its interest. All of this happens at once in a disillusionment moment. It is a moment when you realize the unusual camp style and pulse-pounding promotions in no way make up for the fact that what you are left with is a cheesy washed-up story with characters you don’t like.
Micah and Katie, using the actor’s real names to falsely enhance the realism, are a couple who have been together for three years and live in a new house in California. Since they moved in Katie has been experiencing an old haunting from her childhood. After further investigation and a consultation with a psychic, the pair are told that Katie is the victim of a demon. The psychic says he can do nothing for her, but tells her to call a demonologist. Throughout this experience Micah has set up his camera, which he keeps with him to document paranormal events, in the bedroom to film them at night. About two thirds of the movie is a group of sequences of them sleeping when a demon attacks. At this point the action really starts to drag, not to say that it ever got going in the first place, but after an hour of an invisible monster moving things and making sounds and them screaming and then nothing happening you will desperately want something to happen.
And then, at once, it’s over. The climax leaving you disappointed even by the standards the exposition has set. Perhaps it is reminiscent of The Exorcist if you remove the gripping characterization, the genuinely chilling story, and an ending which closes all of its subplots and resolves the main plot in an artistic moment of good vs. evil. Then replace all of that with phoned in scares and no particular resolution to speak of, and you have Paranormal Activity.