Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paranormal Activity (2007)

As I mentioned in my review of [REC] a while back, I'm a huge fan of the faux documentary style horror movies. The forced acceptance of what you see as evidence of actual happenings, the candid yet simple performances, and the simplicity of story all add up to a terrifying experience when all of these elements mesh well.

As for Paranormal Activity..... Holy shit....

The movie follows the harrowing trial of a young couple, Kate and Michah (Kate Featherstone and Michah Sloat), as they struggle to understand and combat the demonic force that threatens their happiness.

The action picks up on a day when Michah buys a video camera in order to document the strange goings on. We find out that this is no ordinary haunting, as the paranormal activity has occurred off and on since Kate was a child and seems to be focused on her.

No matter where she goes, the weirdness follows.

At first, Michah acts out of a mixture of intrigue and amusement. Kate, on the other hand, is absolutely terrified. Out of desperation, Kate contacts a psychic (Mark Frederichs) to ask him to divine the truth of what's going on in the house. The plot then takes an obvious shift towards the sinister when the psychic informs Kate and Michah that what they are experiencing is no mere haunting; it is demonic activity.

Over the next few nights, the malevolent spirit makes its presence felt in a gradual wave of building tension and the mental and physical effects on the hapless couple is downright devastating.

I was pleased to see that the production staff and the director had done their Occult 101 homework, as it is common in folklore (see also Drag Me To Hell) for an incubus (a nocturnal demonic being) to repeatedly visit its victim and wear him or her down in order to make them more vulnerable to its influence.

When the final moments hit, they will smash your nerves like a ton of bricks.

The subtle effects, the honest performances of the cast, and attention to small detail all work to make Paranormal Activity a blood chilling affair that is worth your cash this Halloween season.

I don't think it is quite the instant classic that the hype makes it out to be, but it follows in the admirable spirit of The Haunting and [REC] by doing more with less and making your senses pay for it

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