Project Horror, Day 19: Paranormal Activity


These last several days have been very long, busy days.  I almost considered not watching a movie tonight so that I could go to bed a little early, but I have my project before me, and I can't neglect it.  Did Cal Ripken quit in the middle of his streak?  Did Alexander the Great quit when he had conquered only half of the known world?  To join the company of the greats, you've got to power through it sometimes.

Every few years, a movie comes out whose metastory becomes as much a part of its hype as the plot itself.  With Paranormal Activity, as with The Blair Witch Project before it, the story was about how little the movie was made for contrasted with how much it then was bought for or grossed.  When a studio buys the film at a festival or something, the real numbers are a part of the story, but it eventually gets exaggerated to the point where people are talking about how the crew was paid in Bazooka Gum wrappers, and the studio liked the movie so much that they purchased it with ingots of an element so rare it has yet to be named.  Unfortunately, this kind of hype also tends to lead to an eventual backlash, so if you don't see the movie during that initial flush of excitement, it'll either be spoiled for you when you do see it, or somebody will have talked you out of seeing it.  Somehow I've managed to avoid spoilers on Paranormal Activity for the year or so since it's been released, so I went into this one without preconceptions.

The story on this one is classic haunted house.  A young couple lives together, and the boyfriend decides to set up a camera to record what she's been experiencing at nights.  Ever since she was a little girl, she's felt tormented by a dark presence.  He doesn't actually believe he'll get anything on camera, but it turns out he's very wrong.

A weakness many movies of this type have is what I call the "cat syndrome."  There aren't real scares, just quiet moments that are suddenly interrupted by something loud or startling, like a cat screeching out from under a bed.  This movie doesn't fall into that trap, though.  I worried it would when the presence first made itself known by slamming doors, but by the time it had reached the end and things had escalated, I was very impressed.

Can't make this one any longer.  I seriously just fell asleep typing that last paragraph with my finger on the D key, and woke up with like 15 lines of d's.  This was a good movie that literally left me with goosebumps in its final scene.  I give it four camcorders out of five.


Kyle said...

Danny, that element will eventually be named "Unobtainium".

Will Meekin said...

(nice one, kyle.) what? just four camcorders? well, my friend, this is where we diverge. of course, a) i saw it in the theater during "the initial flush of excitement," and 2) these "found footage" movies really get under my skin. so maybe that's the differenceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Will Meekin said...

hmm, the formatting above is wonky, at least on my end. let's try that again, i saw this one in the theater and these found footage movies really creep me out, so maybe that's why i'd give this one, and blair witch and quarantine (the american remake of [rec]) 5, 5 and 4.5 camcorders respectively.

Kyle said...

Just watched this the other night and really liked it. I actually had to split it over two nights which I think is definitely NOT the way to go, but whatever.

Quarantine was very solid.

However, I was EXTREMELY frustrated/upset that the final shot of the entire film was in every commercial I saw. I kept waiting for that scene and for it to be the last shot really weakened the impact. That should be a marketing no no.

Danny said...

You know, that bugged me, too. I wonder when trailers and commercials started doing that so often. Earlier this year I pulled out my "Alien" DVD, and watched the commercials after I watched the movie, and they showed almost no footage from the actual movie at all.

Ali said...

once again i shall comment by quoting you (b/c i'm all original like that):

"...the crew was paid in Bazooka Gum wrappers, and the studio liked the movie so much that they purchased it with ingots of an element so rare it has yet to be named."

Danny said...

I'll bet that there comes some point where it stops being fun having people quote you, but I have not yet reached it by a long shot. Thanks for reading!

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