Thursday, November 12, 2009

What happens when you sleep?Paranormal Activity [2009]
Directed by: Oren Peli
Starring: Some random people


There's been so much hype around this movie that i can barely see straight. It's taken the world by storm, and many people are saying it's one of the scariest movies ever made. Some critics even labeled it the scariest film EVER. That's a big title, and a few films over the years have received it. The only movie that's ever lived up to that hype for me has been The Exorcist, so i went into PA with curious eyes. I left all expectations at the door when i went to see this, and was thankfully pleasantly surprised. By "pleasantly surprised", i mean, CREEPED THE FUCK OUT a few good times.

The story follows a young couple named Katie and Micah. They move into a new house, and we soon learn that Katie has a few problems with ghosts. One "ghost" in particular has been following her most of her life. Katie's getting a bit annoyed by being terrified by shadow figures during the night, so her boyfriend decides to record each night as they sleep, so they can catch some raw footage of the haunting taking place. The "ghost" doesn't like this idea very much, and as the nights go on and as creepy footage is captured, the shit starts to hit the fan in a major way.

That's pretty much the entire movie. You follow these people day in and day out, hearing them talk about what's happening, seeing them get stressed, and see paranormal activity occur during the night. What's great about the film is that it has a really nice slow build up to the events that take place closer to the end of the movie.
We get to know the couple during the daytime scenes, some people hated them, i personally liked them. The night time scenes are when MOST of the "freaky" stuff happens, which is probably why it's best to see the film with a smaller crowd. Those scenes work best in complete silence. There's a lot of sound use in the film that really makes your spine tingle, sometimes it's very subtle, other times it's loud as FUCK.

It's hard to talk about the movie without giving too much away, it's best you go in with no idea about scenes or stand out moments. So if you haven't seen the movie, don't read on......if you have, highlight the muted text to read my thoughts of specific moments [or skip to the black text at the end of the review for no spoilers]:

The realistic use of the night cam gives a really great eerie feel to the movie. You feel like you're seeing the real thing and it helps build atmosphere every time the lights are out and the hauntings occur.
Another great effect during the night cam footage: Every time something creepy is about to happen, the play a foreboding sound that lets you know something isn't right. It's an amazing effect that worked like crazy on me, and the rest of the cinema [who went silent each time it happened].

The stand out scene for me was when Katie gets dragged from her bed by her foot. It really fucked me up, and everyone in the cinema was really freaked out, lol. The way it was executed was PERFECT, everything from the way her foot gets gripped to the dragging down the hallway and her screams of terror. It looked exactly like how it would in real life [i assume]. Absolutely spine tingling and completely unexpected. That moment is one of my all time favourite scenes in a movie ever. It's SO well done.

Other nice parts.................the footage of a Ouija board being left alone in the house, creepy stuff, the bed sheets being lifted up over Katie's legs as she sleeps, Katie watching Micha sleep while in a trance, spooky, and the ending where Katie screams for Micah right before throwing his lifeless body at the camera sitting in their bedroom.

The film isn't perfect, and it's not for everybody. There IS a pacing issue in the first half of the film, and a day scene or two could have been shortened or left out completely. The ending, as great as it was, does mess with the tone of the film a bit, and it did get a bit too "Hollywood" for my taste. Other than that, i didn't really find much else wrong with the movie. On repeat viewings it'll most likely lose a bit of it's bite, but in the right setting it could easily be enjoyed again in a second screening. As a first viewing experience though, GREAT stuff. Lots of fun.

When this was initially released through film festivals earlier this year, 99% of the crowd reaction to this was extremely positive. The critical reviews have been strong during it's entire release as well. With lots of hype comes eager people ready to rip a film apart though, and now this is suffering the same situation Blair Witch did back in the day. People go in readying themselves to be TERRIFIED instead of just enjoying it for what it is. I'm sure there are many people out there who genuinely found it boring, or not scary. It's not a masterpiece by any means. But it's also the perfect movie made for the cynical crowd who refuse to get caught up in the latest fad out of some strange desire to PROVE EVERYONE WRONG by hating a movie. It's a bit ridiculous.
In saying that though, as i mentioned before, the film is getting rave reviews by the critics [and still many movie goers], and that's always welcome in my book since horror films are disregarded by critics so often because the genre churns so much crap.

Ignore what everyone else tells you. Don't listen to the hype, don't listen to the complainers [they always try and ruin a party], and try and see this film in a dark room, with as little people as you can, with the volume turned up full blast. If you like a good slow burner, you'll be in for a few treats with this.
Is it the scariest movie ever made? no, is it genuinely creepy? fuck yes.

I'm waving my PA fan flag loud and proud!

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