my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Paranormal Activity
Director:   Oren Peli
Year:   2007
Genre:   Ghost
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   09.24.09

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
09.24.09Alamo South LamarThis Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2009
The midnight shows were running late because they held the 10 o'clock shows for people returning from Broncos, so I had my first official way-over-capacity-lobby experience of the fest! But now instead of three lines filling up the space and making everyone awkwardly overhear each other's conversations, it's just a huge cluster of people wanting to be closer to the hallway entrance even though their ticket numbers are like 156 and the entire lobby will have to pass by them before they can move. But hey, I guess it's too much to hope that people think about where they stand when they start talking to their buddies so whatever, it happens. I'm sure this won't be the last.

Once seated (with free popcorn and soda - a dubious sign), I started to wonder if I'd make it through without falling asleep. Macabre made me pretty tired and I started to think when the last time was that I was up this late on a school night. Luckily, the film kept me up (more on that in a few paragraphs).

This movie is the story of a couple who buy a camera to document the titular paranormal activity going on in their home. Surprisingly (shockingly?) Harry Knowles actually had a pretty decent introduction likening it to the best episode of Ghost Hunters (with Rod and Douche) ever. It was a good intro because I think this movie needs a lot of help from the viewer. Like with any thriller that people call "scary," it needs some amount of cooperation on your part. I will say that if you buy into it, as I and most of the theater did, it works pretty well.

After watching, I have several issues with the movie. So before I get into them, for the non-spoiler crowd let me say it was the movie I liked most tonight, it genuinely creeped me out, and kept me thinking about it right up to the point where I fell asleep in my unprotected bed in my unprotected apartment unfortunately alone. As Quint mentioned in his review, it's probably best to watch this movie at home alone but seeing it in a theater is pretty cool as well. Also as he mentioned, the film succeeds largely due to the acting of the leads; both (well, all three) were great.

It also has a very interesting effect of completely announcing when the movie's about to get scary EVERY TIME then actually creeping me out almost every time. It conditions you to the point that when the movie cuts back to the bedroom with a "night #14" or whatever, you tense up. What's gonna happen now? The scares are even telegraphed with the sound design so there's no cheap "the cat jumped out of the closet!" gags at all (quite the opposite) yet the film still succeeds at freaking you out, which is quite an achievement.

Ok, ramping up spoilers from here on out. The first few are minor, the fourth paragraph is pretty big.

First, the girl wears nothing but tanktops. I didn't really mind while watching (boobs) but Victor mentioned it right off the bat and it was a total "oh yeah!" moment.

Secondly, I know everyone has to sleep sometime but... don't you think you might want to change it up or something, sleep during the day so you can wake up at 3:08 when all this stuff seems to happen? I think I'd have a much harder time relaxing in that damn bed after night 6 or so.

Thirdly, the last shot sucks. I guess it's a familiar problem with this kind of movie (Blair Witch suffered from it as well) in that the whole thing is so subtle and realistic that when the cards are shown and you have to have some cap to the whole movie, showing something subtle is not enough. If you ask me, even cutting the last 20 seconds would've helped it incredibly. it's such a downer to be "with" the movie the whole entire time just to go "eh" at the very last part of the very last shot.

Fourthly, and most hugely, the dude in this movie is an idiot. Enough so that the whole movie now borders on reinforcement of Eddie Murphy's classic joke about the difference between white people and black people when confronted with ghosts. "Oh honey don't you love this house isn't it great? ~GET OUT~ too bad we can't stay, baby." I know the film goes out of its way to stress that it's the girl who's haunted and not the house, but the dude acts annoyingly white nonetheless. His fierce refusal to let anyone help and do everything wrong leads the latter parts of the movie down paths that I didn't find realistic at all. Like the "research" he does and the webpage he finds (complete with full-screen video even though the page itself looked from 1996) and the stuff with the potential names on the ouija board. It all seemed fake to me. I don't care about any of it and wish it wasn't in there. Why do demons all the time have to have backstory? Ugh. And seriously, how stupid do you have to be to burn a cross and think that's helping anything? I know his character is the way he is for the whole audience to have this reaction, but wouldn't it also be a cool audience reaction to have your main characters be pretty smart and do things that I would think to do and still have them pestered by demons? I know that's a harder job and all but... damn was this dude stupid. ugh!

So that's that. It's 2:30, time for me to head home and to bed. In my dark bedroom. Where who knows what goes on while I lay there asleep.

Hey ghost! I dare you
to fart on my cheek at night
Hah! Got it on tape
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