Directed by: Oren Peli
Starring: Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
The Blair Witch Project paved the way for found footage horror back in 1999, with it’s slick ad campaign and it’s unseen level of tension brought on by unknown actors. Fast forward to 2007, Oren Peli creates his own terrifying vision. Two years later, Paramount Pictures sees the potential and starts a campaign to get people interested. It worked, and what followed became one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. With the release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension today (Which isn’t playing in my town, so I can’t review it), I thought we’d look back and see what made this first film so special.
Meet Katie and Micah (Played by Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat, catchy names right?), they’re your average couple living in California, but they have a problem. Katie has been experiencing the effects of a ghostly presence for all her life, and she just wants to forgot about it. Micah, however, wants to try and explain what is happening and sets up a camera in their room to see if he can catch any of the Paranormal Activity. However, as things start to happen, Micah wants to egg it on to make bigger things happen and what occurs next, was found on tape by Police.
As characters, Katie and Micah have great on screen chemistry. They feel like real people, a real couple, and that’s important to sell when the activity picks up during the film. Katie is fantastic, especially during her terrified performances throughout the film. Micah is an obnoxious goof ball, but he serves his purpose well.
The set up is fantastic, and the gradual build up in terror is well done. We are trained as an audience, to be afraid of when the film switches to night mode. Sure enough, eventually the activity happens during the day, and we’re not safe day or night, and that’s part of the fun. The scares are top notch and unexpected (on first viewing anyways) and I remember seeing Paranormal Activity opening night and with my co workers early, and I’ve never seen a crowd more terrified. A lot of fun to hear the crowd screaming, and in some cases crying.
The sad thing about the franchise, is that this film is really the only effective film in the series. Which is unfortunate, because this one packed one hell of a punch. This was also one of the flicks that caused so many horror fans to be so jaded. I like to call these people horror hipsters, if everyone likes it, they automatically can’t and have to tear the film a new one.
I don’t care what anyone says, I still think the first Paranormal Activity is worthy of the horror hall of fame. A movie where a little goes a long way, and it didn’t rely on a huge budget to scare the pants off audiences. It’s a heavy hitter, and it’s a shame that the other films after didn’t capture the same level of tension.
9 shadows out of 10.