“Paranormal Activity” is one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen. There is a feeling of perpetual dread that slowly overwhelms the characters in an indescribable way. The audience begins to experience the same horror, which continues after leaving the theater, because of the intimate and almost claustrophobic nature of the foreboding camera.
“Paranormal Activity” has a similar filmmaking style to “The Blair Witch Project” but is more effectively petrifying because the characters reactions to this situation are thoroughly understandable. Anybody in the audience might have made the same decisions and found themselves in a similar situation that breeds unimaginable horror. The question of believability and intelligence of the characters often resounded during the course of “The Blair Witch Project,” when some audience members wondered the reasons for the continuation of this increasingly dangerous mission. In “Paranormal Activity,” the characters are powerless in fighting a force that is inhumane, incomprehensible, and inescapable and that realization and the depiction of its affects is extraordinarily frightening.
Alfred Hitchcock, the great director, always believed that great horror was not from the bang but rather the anticipation of it. “Paranormal Activity” perfectly illustrates this belief with a mostly subtle, intermittently startling storyline that leads to its shocking conclusion. The reason people went so willingly to horror movies has often been a mystery to me, but maybe it is so that they can feel the chill subside in their spine afterwards because of the detachment they feel from the screen. The feeling of escape that puts your mind at ease is not easily attained after this enveloping experience.
The interplay between Katie and Micah appears to be a realistic and loving relationship, complicated by the entity that may preemptively cut their future together short. Each person flirts, jokes, and smiles at the other, looking for comfort when they feel like isolated victims who are alone in understanding the other’s internal terror. The affection seems genuine and the concern seems authentic, which is what makes the possible implications of the circumstances worse.
The film’s marketing campaign has been one of the most ingenious of the last few years and should be used in aiding the release of other independent movies, which are struggling to find an audience. The idea is to get a certain amount of people from a certain area request the film, as if people are reserving tickets for a movie that might never show. This means the distributers can see where the best places are to put the film and gain the most box office success, while opening it in the least amount of theaters and making the best profit. The overall use of technology is both refreshing and brilliant, using given resources to their fullest, and it could be influential as a new strategy to releasing independent works.
“Paranormal Activity” is amazingly effective at expressing terror in the most basic and scariest sense. This is exceptional filmmaking, an exhibition of the success that can be attained when a specific vision is respected and realized. The demon illustrated feels real and its unbreakable hold infects the entire audience because “Paranormal Activity” is more than a movie. It is an experience.