Released in 2007, the film is in the style of the “found footage” genre. With the success of The Blair Witch Project this type of film-making was becoming very popular. Here we see a young couple struggling with their house being haunted and shows their horror as the haunting incidents escalate.
I cannot honestly tell you how funny you humans are when it comes to things that you cannot explain, you see ghosts and demons, you see angels and miracles, you spend so much time debating the possibilities of life after death, and seriously don’t get me started on religion…and this idea of ghosts or demons possessing a building or a person has been done in numerous horror films over the years.
In 2007, Paranormal Activity hit the big screen and people were bowled over by how frightening it was. At the time of its release this film got a lot of attention, received generally favourable reviews from critics and has spawned numerous sequels. But now that the hype has well and truly died down is the film really as good and scary as people claimed??
Personally I don’t think so, and after my usual quick run through of the basic plot I am going to tell you why.
The gist is that a young couple named Micah and Katie move into a new house in San Diego, Katie claims that a presence is haunting her and so Micah (not dumping this obviously crazy bitch then and there) decides to set up a series of cameras around the house to capture evidence of any mysterious goings on.
As the cameras roll we start to witness a series of strange occurrences happening at night with Katie often getting out of bed and wandering around or standing over Micah staring at him as he sleeps. The weirdness continues as night after night more bizarre incidences occur including non-human footprints appearing in talcum powder on the floor of their bedroom.
Eventually a psychic is called to the house but he is overwhelmed by fear and leaves the house. Micah and Katie continue filming the events happening and eventually things come to a terrifying conclusion…
As I have said, this another of the “found footage” films, if you don't know what that is permit me to explain...basically we are expected to believe that what we are seeing is real. The technique involves using hand-held cameras, or poor quality film to fool the audience into believing that this is true footage of something that has really happened. I have seen a number of these types of films and I have to say that I am intrigued by the style of it because it can convince audiences that they are truly witnessing real life events. From what I’ve heard friends and some family of the cast that appeared in The Blair Witch Project were completely convinced that the footage they were watching was indeed genuine they had contacted the cast’s families concerned that something nasty had happened to them in the woods. It demonstrates that when done well this style can be very convincing and of course the more convincing it is the more frightening it is.
I don’t believe in the idea of pretending fake footage is actually true, simply because I do not think that it is real. I said in my Apollo 18 review that as I had seen one of the astronauts in that film in the TV show Stargate Atlantis so I knew that nothing I was seeing was an actual event. Of course no horror films are real, but the more something tires to convince me something is actually true life the more likely it is that I am to pick holes in it which breaks the wilful suspension of disbelief. Likewise with films like Cloverfield I just don’t believe them and as a result I cannot find them scary. They don't suck me in so I don't accept that the footage is truly real. I can appreciate the filming technique and the low budget style can reap huge returns at the box office because it costs very little to make some of these films.
In the case of Paranormal Activity I cannot say that I found it frightening, what I can say is that I really, really disliked the character of Katie.
So…she claims that she is being haunted by some demonic entity, and her boyfriend takes this onboard, and actively tries his best to help. I have written that in italics because I think it is pretty important, I mean if any of my skin sack’s previous girlfriends had told me that they were being haunted, I don’t think I’d have stuck around, as it turns out I did not stick around for completely different reasons but that is a whole other story...
Anyhow, not only does Micah try and help Katie, but she is a real bitch to him despite his best efforts. She goes on and on and on at him telling him that he is not helping and is making things worse. You are the one who is haunted love, I think the fact that he is sticking around demonstrates his commitment to you so why don’t you try cutting him some slack. I can honestly say that I have never wanted the main character of a film to die quite as badly as I wanted to see Katie come to a grisly end, she is so selfish, and all she thinks about is herself. If I was being haunted by an entity that I thought might cause me to harm someone I cared about, and believe me those I care about are on a ridiculously short list, I would get as far away from them as possible so I wouldn’t risk harming them. Does Katie does this?? No, all she does is bitch, moan, complain so she does not deserve to be with Micah who is trying his best to deal with his girlfriend being haunted. During my time on this planet my skin sack as dated women with a fuck load of emotional baggage but jeez…a hunted girlfriend is a lot for anyone to take on board.
In addition, in the majority of the footage it is Katie that is acting strangely, she gets out of bed and stands over Micah staring at him. We see her acting strangely again and again. Indeed the ending implies that in the end the “entity” haunting her was not the one who caused harm. I think we are expected to believe that she is being possessed or traumatised but all I saw was a creepy woman who wanders around at night, does weird stuff and then in the morning claims that she doesn’t remember anything about it.
I am also curious as to why they don’t leave the house, and don’t get me started on the psychic who comes to visit. He just claims that his presence is angering the entity and then leaves. Well you were useful weren’t you?? I mean why have him in the film at all if all he was going to do was walk in, do nothing and then disappear again after being of no use to the film, the plot or the unfortunate couple.
Plus, with everything that is going on why could Micah and Katie not just call the police?? I mean just give them the footage they have gathered up to that point and ask for help from the authorities rather than some hack “psychic” that doesn’t do either of them any good.
Also I interpreted the events of the film a little differently – I think that we are supposed to be rooting for the woman who is being haunted by an entity that intends her harm, however, I did not see it that way…
Consider the events of the film...the entity puts a strain on the relationship between Micah and Katie, at one point Katie is dragged screaming out of her bed and down the corridor outside whilst the door is slammed in Micah’s face so he cannot go to her. Katie gets more irate with Micah as he tries to help her as the events get strangers and more threatening. The ending of the film (spoiler alert) implies or shows – depending on what ending cut you see (again how can there be different endings is the footage is genuine??) that Katie stabs Micah to death. We are supposed to believe that she did this whilst under possession but all through the film Katie does bizarre things then claims to have no memory of doing it.
So, this is my theory...
The entity was actually trying to protect Micah and everything it did was to try and split them up because Katie is psychotic, and might even have a serious psychosis or multiple personality disorder. The entity knows this and is trying to keep Micah safe, even going so far as to physically drag Katie away from him, and trying to seal him away from her by slamming the door to keep him in the bedroom. I think that Katie is insane and is actually a murderer that is hiding behind this bullshit that she is being targeted for no reason when in fact she is being targeted in order to keep Micah save from the threat she poses to him.
Katie is not the victim of the story, she is the villain, and the entity is the hero. Micah is just the poor fool who allowed his love for a psycho to prevent him from seeing that Katie is insane and just wants an excuse to kill.
I did not like Paranormal Activity because I was rooting for the entity, I wanted to see Katie die, or Micah to turn around to her and say “You know what? I’m sick of this shit, I’ve tried to help, I’ve taken a lot onboard but you can deal with this crap yourself” then pack a bag, walk out of the door and leave this self-centred bitch to her fate.
I know people who found it scary, personally I didn’t, Katie was annoying and all I wanted was to see the entity paint the walls with her. Paranormal Activity does not get my approval and my Thumb is Down, I cannot recommend this because Katie is clearly insane and tries to play the victim when in fact she should have been locked up in the loony bin years ago.
3/10 – If you do decide to watch this un-scary piece of crap do so only so you can see if you think the entity is also trying to protect Micah from his insane girlfriend.