Paranormal Activity

I gotta admit that I fell for the pre-fab corporate viral marketing that added a dull bling to this flick. I've been longing to be scared for a while. I wanted to be terrified by this little indie spooker in the same way that Blair Witch sizzled my nerves to such a degree that I actually put the chain lock on my door when I got home. I want chills multiplying. But at the very least I just want good jolty horror. Quality frights. And at this point I'd say 90% of all horror movies are simply terrible. Barely capable of conjuring a half-assed nightmare. And lately, they're just blurring into one mushy overlong film with a crap ending. The Haunting Uninvited Unborn Connecticut Mirror Night Orphanages Possession Eye Shutter Grudge Dead III (the remake). Us horror fans are usually stranded in the friggin cinema wilderness forced to squeeze water out of horror dung for just a bit of scare sustenance.

Although my smarter self threw up warning flags that the Paranormal Activity hype was manufactured-- I at least felt like the film might be worthy of the master plan treatment. If I jumped in my seat a bunch of times and felt a cold tickling behind my ear-- I'd be psyched. But right from the get-go this movie lost me. :-( Right out of the gate some douche was sticking a ridiculously oversized camera in my face. There was something about the presence of the camera that never truly worked throughout. You could never ignore it. Plus, their 'house' (the set) looked like it was the model home in a brand new condo complex. Look they have plants! And books! They must really live there! The 'decor' did not feel homey at all. The place had no personality. The stairs were vaguely annoying. With this place you could imagine their yuppie neighbors who share a wall wondering what the nightly 3AM screams were all about. The setting was false isolation and a surprisingly artificial world.

That being said, this movie did have stuff that I liked! I do admit that I was never bored. Certain scenes are juicy. I did get some chills early on. But if it didn't give me some chill factor-- it would be like missing a layup on a Playskool rim. Yadda. Night creaks work. Bangs work. Footsteps work. Shadows work. You got me there. But this movie never crosses over into anything genuinely worthwhile. The first half-hour is filler crap which would work ok if it was accompanied by subtle dread suction in a nauseating spiral. It wernt. Instead this movie just drifted the whole time without dragging us down. Never once did I become a participant. I didn't set foot in that place. I was always the viewer. Sitting there wishing what I was seeing was way better.

But I was happy to give a pass just based on its cheapness. I respected it. I don't need special effects. I don't need a heavy score. Or an overhead shot. Or big money. Open Water cost what to make? $1000? But if you're gonna go dollar light- you gotta go reality heavy. And there wasn't enough reality here to work with. The people weren't real. Their reaction to a blatant haunter was similar to having mice. Let's set the camera up and see what they do at night? Maybe we can ghostbust them once we see where they're coming from? Or something? And the girl/target in this flick can't keep her stupid boyfriend from taking on every fright as a threat to his manhood? No sale on his act. (Holy shit i just heard a noise in the other room that sounds like someone clucking their tongue!!!... swear!! I actually checked it out. Nothing there.)

Anyway, for whatever reason I did still like watching this movie. It held my attention fine. Sure I didn't pee into my own face to stop my own screaming as promised-- but in the long run I felt this thing worked. Not as horror though. More as a comedy project of sorts. Some sort of home movie pretending to be scary. And the tease factor of 'something happening soon' carried it all the way through. But I want cold unforgiving dread out of my horror victims! I want absolute loss! If the 'evil thing' in this movie had any self respect-- it would have killed these two goofballs by night three just because they didn't take their role seriously. It was all such an act for the camera.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- When I saw her standing there... (the first time)
- I did get a little excited every time they went to sleep.
- It beats 80% of most horror out there just by being somewhat coherent.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- That boring condo deleted a natural bonus creep factor. (No I don't need it to be an old house. Just deeply lived in. Some feeling of ownership etc.)
- She'd be catatonic. Not 'studying'.
- The haunter had no real personality or history.

All in all, this is another case of disposable entertainment-- but I'm happy it's there. Yeah, the shaky cam stuff is sorta annoying but what's the horror alternative these days? A remake of Stepfather? Or another stone white japanese kid staring from behind the curtains? Or a blasphemous restart of another dead franchise? Sure there's been some tasty winners over the past few years (Descent, Strangers, Ruins, 28's) but they're few and far between. And if I'm gonna be fed stuff that isn't very nourishing or filling-- just gimme friggin fast food like this and get me outta there. Don't go through the charade of fancying up the place if you have no idea how to cook.

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