Film Review: ‘Paranormal Activity,’ Dir Oren Peli (2009)

Posted: November 28, 2009 by Ferg in Film Reviews

Why oh why did I agree to go and see this? Normally I stray from horror films due to a pathological fear of drills, which do tend to feature quite prominently in horror flicks. This one, though, didn’t, which was refreshing.

The premise is this: Katie and Micah live together but she personally has been haunted by something for a long time, which only tends to affect her in her sleep – whispering her name, making noises etc. Micah, being the sensible, logical one of the pairing, tries to put her at ease by filming and sound recording the pair while they sleep. His scepticism soon turns out to be unfounded as the paranormal activity becomes increasingly severe and disturbing.

And that, to be honest folks, is the bits of the plot they follow up on. The psychic who appears is a bit of a cop-out, as is the unexplained disappearance of a couple of other crucial characters. I hope ‘Antichrist’ hasn’t set a precedent for the acceptance of massive plot-holes in films. Admittedly one of my favourite films – Donnie Darko – was a bit hole-y, but the editing and mysticism of the film made that perfectly acceptable. It was open to interpretation. Whereas Paranormal Activity is a bit open and shut in this respect, which is peculiar given it’s dealing with some pretty crazy stuff.

To give the film its dues, the build-up of tension is excellent. The haunting, or whatever it is, is brilliantly creepy, and the gradual escalation knows exactly when to let up and when to really push hard. The tension never prematurely peaks, so maybe it’s a good film for sexually frustrated women to go and see?!!

The problem though is that the ending is massively anticlimactic, and the most problematic of all the plotholes. I can’t go into detail because I’ll ruin it, but needless to say it’s not a film for the purists. It’s not a film for many to be honest. The easily scared, those unputurbed by plotholes reminiscent of the gap between Jordan’s ears and, as above, sexually frustrated women. The Blair Witch comparisons are justified in that for a small budget film the plot’s pretty good, but the Blair Witch had structure and an ending for God’s sakes…

2/5

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