Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Paranormal Activity

In 2006, a young couple, Micah and Katie started to live together. She’s a student who’s studying to be a teacher and he’s a day-trader and as Paranormal Activity is starting, they’re starting to conduct their own experiment with a video camera set-up. Now that Katie has moved in with Micah, she’s revealed to him that since here childhood, she’s suffered from mysterious events that seem to haunt her at night, and now, Micah, wanting to get some proof of this, decides to use a video camera to record themselves throughout the day and especially during the night as they’re sleeping. This experiment follows the couple through 3 terrifying weeks in their lives… building to a conclusion that neither ever expected…

And that’s the basic premise to Paranormal Activity the latest “little movie that could” that’s been gaining ground through a very successful viral campaign that’s not unlike what happened with The Blair Witch Project years ago. Costing under $20,000 to make, this tells an extremely effective story, that at least for me ranks as one of the best things I’ve seen this year. If you want to see a good ol’ creepout, this is the movie to see delivering a tale of demonic possession that’s about as effective as The Exorcist was years and years ago.

From what I’ve seen, this, much like Blair Witch is pretty polarizing, with people either declaring that it’s just terrific or else that it’s the worst low budget, poorly acted piece that can be foisted on the public to which I think they miss the point but to each their own I guess… I know I had a terrific time with this and even now am wondering how some of this stuff was pulled off with such a low budget…

I like these movies that are filmed with a video camera, and I really like the turn this one takes to not be theatrical in the slightest, which in this case includes no title or end credits, purely just letting it’s video-filmed events unfold and primarily letting it’s two main characters tell the story. One of the cooler things to me was a regular device used in this, which was the stationary mounting of the camera in the couple’s bedroom at night- yeah, this does let you know ahead that something is about to happen, but what- you don’t know and as the movie goes, it builds and builds…

And a primary reason for that building, comes from the relationship of Micah and Katie, which certainly seems real to me, the sort of behavior a young couple like this might have with events like this unfolding- something she’s lived with and something that he in turn feels the need to provoke. Actors Micah Sloat and Katie Featherstone play the self-titled couple and they’re really good and I have to give kudos to director Oren Peli for casting someone like Featherstone here, who’s body type doesn’t necessarily fit with what might be the norm for other more Hollywood productions.

I didn’t think I was going to get the opportunity to see this in theatres, but fortunately I had that opportunity, and I’m glad I did. We had a pretty good audience for this and they reacted just the way that you might’ve seen in the television previews for this, but not at all obscuring the action of the film (which wasn’t the case when I saw Quarantine). It’s a solid good time and really well made considering the cost of the film, and highly recommended, especially if you’re willing to give in to something made this way…

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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