Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paranormal Activity

"I don't suppose she lives on the ground floor?"

A young man buys a camera in hopes of documenting the strange nocturnal occurrences going on in he and his girlfriends house.

Seeing Paranormal activity was a bit of an accident. Originally the plan was to see The Invention of Lying, but when lunch ran long I convinced Watcher X to see this instead. My knowing when the next showing was playing was no coincidence however, as I had had my eye on this movie for a while now after I'd heard about it's long journey to the screen after sitting in a vault for years. Now it's setting records for profitability, a box office smash- even out selling the the newest installment of the apparently never ending Saw series.
I'm usually unimpressed by spook fests as often the story is left emaciated to better serve the scares. However, this one has earned itself a place in my good graces for striking a much better balance. As opposed to the usual sacrifices, the two main characters in Paranormal Activity (scenes where the acting takes a bit of a cigarette break aside) endear themselves to us. Micca and Katie feel very natural, and very honest. You more than not get the sense that you're baring witness to their daily lives. And I think anyone who's ever lived with a significant other would agree that this movies portrayal is, often hilariously, spot on.
And there in lays the real secret to this movies success in my opinion. Because the characters feel real enough to warrant caring about, the scares strike deeper. Half of the spook of this movie is in our main characters reactions. And let me assure you: there may be moments where the acting might fall a bit flat, but these scenes are never phoned in. And though these "scare" sequences are almost always filmed from the same angle- they never get old.
Paranormal Activity is light on computer generation. It's scenes are simply done, but in no way lacking. In truth it keeps the movie from ever feeling like it's trying to hard, and this is another place that it sets itself apart from the usual. It keeps it simple, and is never afraid to set aside scaring you to concentrate on just plain creeping you out.
Any fan of jumping in their seat will go home happy from this one. But I think fans of chills and mind tricks will feel unusually happy as well. Paranormal Activity may not have been on my "See It" list, but guess what? I'm in that "fans of chills etc." group I named earlier. It's a sleeper hit, and now that I've seen it I understand why. It also serves as a perfect example of the Bob Ross theory: There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.

No comments: