Paranormal Activity: A Late Review (Minor Spoilers)

Posted: January 15, 2010 in Movies

This just came to Korea.  The low budget movie with basically 4 characters is about a couple named Katie and Micah who live together in San Diego. Micah buys a camera and starts recording their daily lives. He does this because Katie claims she hears weird noises at night.

This story is brilliantly paced, with a few false scares, and odd occurrences that at first could be explained simply. (Houses often make weird sounds at night that people think are ghosts) It then builds and builds into more intense and unexplainable phenomenon.

We also get moments to know the characters. The film opens with Katie asking Micah how much the camera was, wishing he hadn’t bought it. He of course jokes about having sex on camera, to which she doesn’t oblige.

A psychic is brought in early on, through whom we get some exposition that Katie’s had these experiences since she was 8. Also during her childhood her home was destroyed by an unexplained fire. The psychic notes that there is not a ghost in the house, but in fact a demon. Demon’s aren’t his field of expertise, but he refers them to someone more qualified. The way the plot works out this person never comes into the picture. (The only other character is a friend of Katie’s.)

Further research by Micah reveals a girl in the 1960s who had similar experiences ending in her death. (A sort of nod to the Exorcist) I wanted more from this point and from the angle about the Demon expert.

I didn’t like Micah. He’s naturally curious about what’s happening, but once he knows it’s really something supernatural, that truly is scaring the woman he loves, he’s still like “Oh cool.” I know horror movies need people to act dumb, but that took me out of the picture a bit. Later he buys a Quija board against Katie’s wishes, and it has an upside down star on it. As far as I know they don’t have those, and it was hard to believe she didn’t throw it out immediately. There’s conflict over using the camera use but it gets repetitive and derails. (Also just leaving the house won’t work because it’s suggested this thing just follows her.)

Still it’s a really scary movie, the kind that needs to be seen in the theater. Korean audiences are really fun to watch these with too.  The beginning scared me more, as once Micah started annoying me it hurt the more intense parts, but they were still good. It’s one of the scariest things I saw in the theater. We get visual scares of things moving, unexplainable shadows moving by, as well as auditory frights that get picked up on Micah’s computer equipment.

(Also they go for the “This really happened” angle, but the first credits have show the part about “The events in this film are fictitious,” etc.)

The story of how this movie was made is interesting too. The studio bought it with the intention of remaking it on a bigger budget. Once it was tested on audiences though, it was released as is. This kind of movie would have been hindered by a big budget. They probably would have added more CGI, where you actually see the demon and it wouldn’t have worked as well. Nothing scares us like our imagination. Movies like this and the Blair Witch Project come along once and a while to remind us that good horror, and good movies in general, can be made on  shoe string budget. 9.5 out of 10.

  1. Indie Genius says:

    Great review! I felt the same way about Mitch, but we all know someone who’s like that…wanting to run headlong into what could be a very dangerous situation without thinking. He’s funny/annoying but makes for a little bit of comedy to balance out all the tension.

    I saw the film before all the hype and really enjoyed this one. Hopefully Hollywood will realize how to make good horror again.

    Great work!

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