Saturday, November 12, 2016

Paranormal Activity

Kate and Micah move into a San Diego house. Before the film started, Kate has been followed by paranormal activity off and on her entire life. Micah is obsessed with catching this phenomenon on film and wants to find out what it wants. They call a psychic in who warns them that it's a demon that feeds off of negative energy and will only get worse if they try to communicate with it. He recommends they contact his demonologist friend for help, but they don't listen. The activity filmed gets more pronounced over time until Kate is walking around and saying things she doesn't remember. Can they be saved from this malevolent presence?

Paranormal Activity is the film that reignited the found footage genre. It has such a simple premise and was made inexpensively, but has long standing effects. The film is entirely from the point of view of Micah's cameras, which he obsessively carries around and sets up to film their room at night. Fairly mundane things happen during the day while most of the supernatural stuff happens at night. The cameras capture the activity that starts small like opening and closing doors, random noises, and lights flickering on and off. All minor things that happen maybe once a twice a night. Then bigger things start happening like Kate sleepwalking or speaking without remembering or being dragged out of bed. The night where the powder is sprinkled on the floor to see footsteps is also especially creepy. The film has no background music, which makes it easy to hear every little noise. Suspense increases with each night sequence in a minimalist way.

The characters are pretty realistic. Micah is obsessed with capturing and communicating with the entity. He's annoying and a bit of a jerk because he puts his own curiosity over Kate's fear and their wellbeing. One day he brings in a Ouija board when he was explicitly told not to and provokes the entity. He annoys everyone by taking his camera absolutely everywhere. He never takes anyone else's feelings into account. Kate is scared of the entity and just wants it to go away. She thinks the cameras will antagonize whatever it is and grows more and more annoyed over Micah's excitement. I liked Kate a lot more than Micah. She's more reasonable and even keeled. She doesn't feel sorry for herself because of her troubled chilhood or the paranormal events around her.

 Paranormal Activity is a great example of creating horror and suspense through small moments over time. Like the Blair Witch Project before it, this film provided effective scares on a small budget and changed the face of found footage. The only lacking part, besides horrible Micah, is the ending. Much of it takes place out of view and the last jumpscare, which is so common now, is cheap. The suspense built to a lackluster ending scene. The film is unique, so I would watch the rest of the series and I hope to see improvement.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins


M.A.D. said...

I've only seen the first P.A., but it honestly scared the ever lovin' crap out of me! For the most part, we really enjoy quite a few of these 'found footage' type movies.

Anyway, true about the cheap jump scares ... but they get me every time. The first time my son played Five Nights at Freddy's, I was sitting there watching with one of the cats curled up in my lap. Omg. So, of course, I jumped and shrieked bloody murder at the first animatronic which scared the cat who left a nice claw-gouge in my thigh lol

Kathryn Troy said...

You're so right about how it sparked new interest in found footage, I only wish it had done more with the story threads they laid down-better demonology, for example. I said it on my list of top found footage at trumps all.