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Paranormal Activity

People believe different things for different reasons angerufen; what is real for one may not be real for another. Do Zombies really exist? One might think with my fascination of the undead I would believe they do, but is my definition of a zombie the same as yours?

Do I think corpses literally rise from the dead only to become mindless carnivores that seek to eat living, breathing, human beings? No. Do I believe that some living people are dead on the inside and exhibit parasitic behavior by “feeding” on the lives and emotions of those around them? Yes, I do.

Do Ghosts and Demons really exist? Are the thousands of people who believe they do - claim they have seen them - all crazy? Or are their minds merely open to the possibility while the unbelievers remain closed, inhibiting their ability to see….

Do you believe in ghosts?

Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity 2009

Don’t kid yourself into going to see Paranormal Activity thinking it’s based on actual events. Though the opening credits will lead you to believe it is, it is not.

It is a fictional story created and directed by newcomer Oren Peli, much in the same fashion as that of The Blair Witch Project (and while the Blair Witch Project was made with a meager $11,000, Paranormal Activity was made with an equally meager $15,000.)

I think for someone who does not believe in ghosts or possession, Paranormal Activity is a movie they should probably skip seeing. The buildup of fear this movie creates is only effective if one has the willingness to believe in the possibility. Anything short of that makes for a boring couple of hours.

I myself have always believed in ghosts and possession. Quite frankly the possession side of it terrifies me which is why I have never been able to watch the Exorcist in its entirety. Well, either that or the crucifix thing, but my point is that I tend to stay away from serious movies involving possession. So why did I want to see Paranormal Activity? Who knows. But I am sure my willingness to believe in such things is probably going to cause me some restless (and most likely sleepless) nights for weeks to come after seeing this one.

Paranormal Activity is the story of Katie (played by newcomer Katie Featherston) and Micah (played by newcomer Micah Sloat), a young couple just starting out. It seems Katie has been hearing strange noises and seeing strange things in their new home, and much to Micah’s dismay, consults with a psychic for help in stopping the events. We learn Katie has had a demon trailing her rather silently since she was 8 years old, and if she wants it to remain dormant then she need not do anything to antagonize it. The psychic strongly suggests consulting an actual demonologist, which Micah adamantly refuses to do.

So for duration of the movie, Micah takes “control” of the situation by recording the events taking place in their home in an attempt to determine what it is they are dealing with. The events initially happen only at night and seem minor enough: lights flipping off and on; sounds of footsteps; doors moving and subsequently slamming, but it’s not enough for Micah. He wants more than just slamming doors and he wants it on tape. Not understanding the seriousness of Katie’s “haunting,” Micah ignores the psychic’s warnings and instigates confrontation with the unseen intruder; taunting it; daring it to be more evident. His typical male ego tells him he can handle the outcome, no matter what it is, without having to concede to an exorcism.

300.ParanormalActivity.cmUnfortunately Micah’s actions are not without serious consequence as the nightly recordings show Katie being physically touched, bitten, and even possessed by the entity (although the two do not acknowledge it as a possession.) The events become more frequent, happening in the daytime as well, until the unthinkable becomes the young couple’s inevitable reality.

My Opinion

Paranormal Activity focused on all the elements that freak me out: spirits, demons, and possession. To top it off, they threw in a Ouija Board. Now anyone who has any real belief or fear in the spirit world knows the Ouija Board spells bad news. It’s the ultimate portal for allowing the supernatural entrance to your world. Call me stupid, but there is no way in hell I am having one of those things in my house so some evil thing can screw with me. Why tempt fate? Sure some people have had Ouija Boards in their homes for years with no consequence, but guaranteed I would be the exception and I won’t take the risk of proving myself right.

While Paranormal Activity was not laden with excessive scare tactics or even much excitement (as it is seen mostly through the lens of a video camera), the tension that builds from scene one is filled with expectation. Enough so that this viewer at least was held captive until the very (although somewhat foreseen) ending.

The Effectiveness of Paranormal Activity

Unfortunately Paranormal Activity wasn’t wit]hhout holes and it’s these little holes (namely missing video footage) that confirm that Paranormal Activity is not based on actual events, and cause the movie to lose some of its effectiveness.

The ending of the movie was probably the biggest hole and the one part of the movie that caused me to leave the theater feeling somewhat cheated. (Click on this link if you want to see what that hole is but do so only if you do not care that I will reveal the movie’s ending!)

Did I Miss Something?

I was so pumped to see this movie. And while I am glad I did as I still found it to be a very good movie, it wasn’t a great movie. I tell myself the director was aiming for a feel of reality which doesn’t usually involve projectile vomit or spinning heads, and I completely respect that he held true to the realism - but something’s just….. missing. I hate to say it but it just didn’t scare me enough.

Maybe I will watch it again when it’s released on DVD - alone in my creaky house with all the lights out late at night. I bet then I’d be so scared I’d rather pee my pants then get up to walk through the dark to the bathroom. THAT’S how I was hoping to be scared…. guess I will just have to wait and see.